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This Day in Military History

JAN11929MAJ Carl A. Spaatz and his modified Fokker C2-3 trimotor lift off for a record-setting flight that lasts 150 hours and 40 minutes. The Question Mark takes on 5,700 gallons of fuel from 43 in-flight refuelings as it flies back and forth between San Diego and Santa Monica, California.
JAN11945After two weeks of weather delays, the German Luftwaffe musters all available pilots and aircraft to execute their top-secret operation to wipe out Allied air forces and gain air superiority over France, Holland and Belgium. 120 Royal Air Force and 20 American warplanes are destroyed on the ground, but one-quarter of the German force - 200 aircraft - are lost (many due to friendly fire). The last-ditch Operation BODENPLATTE will be the Luftwaffe's final major strategic operation of the war.
JAN11946A solitary U.S. soldier registering American graves on Corregidor is interrupted by 20 Japanese soldiers waving a flag of surrender. The men had lived in a tunnel on the island and learned of Japan's surrender months before by spotting a newspaper while on a foraging mission.
JAN11951Half a million Communist Chinese and North Korean troops launch a new offensive, hammering away at the UN forces falling back from the 38th Parallel. As the South Korean capital of Seoul is about to fall into enemy hands a second time, GEN Douglas MacArthur informs the Japanese that they may have to rearm due to the threat. However, the overextended and exhausted communists break off the attack by month's end.
JAN11962U.S. Navy SEAL Teams "One" and "Two" are established. The special warfare operators, created for guerilla and counter-guerilla operations, are drawn from the ranks of the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams. Team One is headquartered at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado on the West Coast and Two at NAB Little Creek on the East Coast.
JAN21863MG William S. Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland narrowly defeats GEN Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in Murphysboro. Losses were heavy: roughly one-third of the 42,000 Union and 35,000 Confederate soldiers are killed, wounded, or missing. In fact, casualty percentages were higher during the Battle of Stones River than during any other engagement during the Civil War.
JAN21942Manila falls to Japanese LTG Masaharu Homma's 14th Army, as well as the naval base at Cavite and Clark Field.
JAN21951When enemy machine gun fire from an adjacent hill tear into SFC Junior D. Edwards and his platoon near Changbong-ni, Edwards rushes the nest. He temporarily drives off the enemy gun crew until running out of ammunition and has to cross the killzone a second time for additional grenades. Upon returning, he kills the remaining crew, but another machine gun opens fire on his position. Racing through enemy fire again for more grenades, he manages to neutralize the second position. Edwards falls while making yet another assault against the enemy and will posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor.
JAN21967COL Robin Olds' 8th Tactical Fighter Wing - the "Wolfpack" - wipes out half of North Vietnam's MiG 21 fighter fleet in Operation BOLO. Olds' advanced F-4C "Phantoms" tricked Communist intelligence into thinking the advanced fighters were just another easy target of F-105 "Thunderchief" fighter-bombers by flying at altitudes, speeds, routes, and using radio callsigns typical to the less maneuverable F-105s. When the MiGs flew into Olds' ambush, seven "Fishbeds" are shot down in 12 minutes. Olds scores one of the victories, making him the only Air Force ace with kills in both World War II and Vietnam.
JAN21994The F-4G "Wild Weasel V" flies its last combat mission, during a flight over Iraq. During Operation DESERT STORM, the Wild Weasel crews took on the dangerous role of targeting Iraqi air defense networks, destroying some 200 sites.
JAN31777GEN George Washington defeats a British force under LTC Charles Mawhood in the Battle of Princeton.
JAN31861Four companies of Alabama volunteers led by COL John B. Todd capture Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.
JAN31944Over Rabaul, New Guinea, MAJ George "Pappy" Boyington's F4U "Corsair" is shot down after the Marine aviator scores his 26th official victory. The former "Flying Tiger" and commander of VMF-214 will spend the remainder of the war - 20 months - in Japanese captivity and is awarded the Medal of Honor upon his repatriation.
JAN31944Off the coast of New Jersey, the destroyer USS Turner (DD-648) suffers a series of explosions - possibly due to a German U-boat attack - and sinks, taking 15 officers and 123 men with her. A Coast Guard HNS-1 helicopter flown by LCDR Frank A. Erickson flies in life-saving plasma to the scene, marking the first time a helicopter is used in a rescue role.
JAN31945ADM Chester Nimitz is placed in command of all naval forces and GEN Douglas MacArthur is charge of ground operations.
JAN31945First Army attacks the Germans as they retreat from the "bulge" in the Ardennes, as 1,100 bombers and 11 groups of fighter escorts hammer railroad and communication centers in western Germany.
JAN41847The U.S. Ordnance Department orders 1,000 revolvers designed by Samuel. Colt and Texas Ranger CPT Samuel H. Walker. The powerful firearm features a revolving cylinder that can effectively fire its six .44 bullets up to 100 yards.
JAN41910USS Michigan (BB-27), America's first dreadnought battleship, is commissioned. The massive ship features eight 12-inch guns mounted in twin turrets, which are capable of sending an 870-lb. projectile over 11 miles away and could penetrate over 16 inches of armor.
JAN41943Off the coast of Munda Island, USS Helena (CL-50) shoots down a Japanese Type 99 Val bomber, marking the first kill using Variable Timing (proximity-fused) anti-aircraft shells.
JAN41944U.S. Army Air Force and Royal Air Force bombers begin dropping weapons and supplies to resistance fighters in France, Belgium, and Italy during Operation CARPETBAGGER.
JAN41951The South Korean capital of Seoul falls into enemy hands for a second time.
JAN41989Two Libyan MiG-23 "Flogger" fighters approach two F-14 "Tomcats" from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) flying a combat air patrol mission over the Mediterranean Sea. The Tomcats engage and splash the MiGs in the first dogfight for the U.S. military since a 1981 engagement with Libya. Muammar Gaddafi claims that the U.S. Navy shot down unarmed reconnaissance planes, but gun camera footage shows the world that the fighters were armed with missiles.
JAN51781BG Benedict Arnold captures and burns Richmond, Virginia with a force of 1,600 redcoats.
JAN51855A landing party from the USS Plymouth skirmishes with Chinese forces near Canton during the Taiping Rebellion.
JAN51861Fort Sumter is surrounded by Confederate forces. The civilian merchant vessel Star of the West departs New York for the besieged Federal troops with supplies and 250 reinforcements.
JAN51875U.S. Navy CDR Edward Lull leads an expedition to locate the best route for the Panama Canal.
JAN51904Marines arrive in Korea to defend the U.S. legation assembly at Seoul.
JAN51945Japanese pilots receive their first order to execute kamikaze suicide tactics.
JAN5195159 B-29 "Superforts" hammer Pyongyang with nearly 700 tons of bombs and the 18th Fighter-Bomber Group takes off from Suwon Air Base for the final time. The base is destroyed in the face of an advancing Chinese and North Korean military.
JAN51967U.S. and South Vietnamese Marines conduct a joint amphibious assault of the Mekong Delta. The goal of Operation DECKHOUSE V is to capture Viet Cong prisoners from the Thanh Phu Secret Zone, and it is the first time U.S. troops operate in the delta.
JAN51970SSG Franklin D. Miller was leading a long range patrol of Special Forces soldiers and Montagnards in Laos when a booby trap wounded several members. A firefight ensued, wounding the entire patrol. Despite a serious chest wound, Miller is the last man standing and keeps up the fight for several hours, holding off repeated enemy assaults against their position. That evening, as he is about to exhaust his ammunition, a team arrives to relieve the Green Berets.
JAN52002Air Force C-17 cargo planes deliver materials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba so the "Seabees" can construct a detention facility for captured Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees.
JAN61777GEN George Washington sets up winter camp for the Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, N.J.
JAN61861Florida militia forces seize the Union Apalachicola Arsenal, which is defended by Ordnance SGT Edwin Powell and three laborers. Powell was prepared to fight if ordered to hold and initially refuses to surrender the keys to the magazines or armory. But when the militia allows him to send a telegram to his command for instruction - and he receives no response - he reluctantly concedes.
JAN61927U.S. Marines return to Nicaragua to protect American lives and property.
JAN61942President Franklin Roosevelt informs Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in United States history: eight million tons of shipping, 45,000 planes, and 45,000 tanks, and 20,000 anti-aircraft guns will roll off assembly lines within the year.
JAN61944BG Frank Merrill is designated to lead the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), a long-range penetration special operations unit, now popularly known as Merrill's Marauders.
JAN61968Army helicopter pilot MAJ Patrick H. Brady conducted multiple medical evacuation missions in South Vietnam in dense fog and in the face of heavy enemy fire. Over the course of the day, he rescued 51 soldiers and 400 bullet holes were counted in the three helicopters he flew.
JAN111944In the skies over Oschersleben, Germany, MAJ James H. Howard is leading a group of P-51 “Mustangs”, escorting a formation of B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers. When Luftwaffe fighters intercept the group, Howard immediately shoots down a Messerschmitt Bf-110 long range fighter. Upon returning, he finds 30 German pilots attacking the bombers. Without any tactical advantage, he nonetheless single-handedly attacks the enemy planes, shooting down three, and damaging or possibly destroying three more. GEN Carl A. Spaatz presents Howard with the Medal of Honor to Howard in June.
JAN111945Near Bastogne, Belgium, SSG Archer T. Gammon’s platoon is advancing through the woods when it is targeted by a German machine gun position. Archer wades through waist-deep snow to attack the position, eliminating it with grenades. Now rid of the deadly obstacle, the platoon moves forward again, but runs into a hornet’s nest of machine guns, infantry, and a tank. Despite hostile fire zeroing in on him, he again charges forward and eliminates another machine gun nest with grenades and closes within 25 yards of the vehicle while eliminating soldiers protecting their tank. Gammon's daring assault proves to be too much for the enemy armor, but as it fires a parting shot, an 88-mm shells scores a direct hit on the daring American staff sergeant. Gammon is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
JAN111945During the American invasion of Luzon Island in the Philippines, CPT William A. Shomo was leading an armed reconnaissance mission of two P-51 “Mustangs”. He and his wingman spotted a formation of Japanese fighters escorting a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber. Although outnumbered 13-2, the American aviators began the attack. Shomo shot down three fighters, then the bomber they were protecting. He will shoot down three more enemy fighters and his wingman, LT Paul Lipscomb, scores three. Shomo’s seven victories give him the second-highest single mission tally for U.S. pilots in history, and he is awarded the Medal of Honor.
JAN111969While leading an armored convoy down a highway in Vietnam’s Binh Long Province, 1LT Harold A. Fritz’s formation is ambushed. Surrounded on all sides and in danger of being overrun, Fritz – who had been wounded in the initial moments – disregards his injuries and heavy enemy fire, leaping from his vehicle to rally his men, directing them to reposition and shift their fire. As the battle wore on, a group of enemy soldiers closed in on the unit. Fritz, armed with just a pistol and bayonet, and some of his fellow men defeat the infiltrating force. Upon arrival of the relief force, Fritz again braves incoming fire to direct the unit.
JAN121945Warplanes from the U.S. Navy’s carrier Task Force 38 under the command of VADM John Sidney McCain Sr. (grandfather of Senator John S. McCain III), attack enemy convoys and bases along the coast of Japanese-held French Indochina (Vietnam) in the Battle of the South China Sea.
JAN121962Ten miles west of Saigon, U.S. Army H-21 flying banana helicopters ferry South Vietnamese paratroopers into battle - the first major American combat operation in what will become the Vietnam War.
JAN121962The U.S. military begins defoliation operations to deny the Viet Cong use of jungle cover for their movements. Over nine years, Operation RANCH HAND pilots, whose motto was "Only you can prevent forests," would fly 19,000 sorties and drop an estimated 20 million gallons of defoliant.
JAN121973An F-4 Phantom flown by U.S. Navy LTs Vic Kovaleski and Jim Wise splash a MiG-17, making it the Navy’s final air-to-air kill and the last aerial-combat kill of the war.
JAN121991With President George H.W. Bush having already deployed 500,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf, Congress passes an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq.
JAN131865U.S. forces under the joint command of MG Alfred Howe Terry and RADM. David Dixon Porter begin landing operations aimed at seizing Fort Fisher, N.C. The fort falls to Union forces within two days.
JAN151815The frigate USS President, under the command of Stephen Decatur, breaks out of the British blockade at New York Harbor, but is soon intercepted by four British ships. President deals out significant damage to the frigate HMS Endymion, but an outnumbered Decatur must surrender the ship.
JAN151943The Pentagon, the headquarters for the Department of Defense and one of the world's largest office buildings, is dedicated. World War II began shortly after construction started, and the design had to be altered to accommodate the shortage of materials such as steel.
JAN151943Over Guadalcanal, Marine Corps aviator CPT Joseph J. Foss shoots down three Japanese planes, bringing his total victories to 26. The top official Marine ace of World War II is awarded the Medal of Honor, tying top World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker's tally in just 95 days.
JAN151967In Los Angeles, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the AFL-NFL World Championship. Among many military veterans on the field are Green Bay Hall-of-Famers Ray Nitschke, Paul Hornung, and Boyd Dowler.
JAN152009A U.S. Airways Airbus 320 flown by Chesley Sullenberger runs into a flock of geese during takeoff, disabling the engines. Sullenberger skillfully ditches the plane in the Hudson River. All the 150 passengers and five-person crew were safely rescued.
JAN161917British intelligence intercepts a coded telegram from the German government requesting an alliance with Mexico if the U.S. enters World War I. In return for a Mexican attack on the United States, Germany would offer financial aid and assist Mexico in regaining Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Mexicans decline, and the "Zimmermann Telegram" sparks outrage when published in U.S. papers, leading Congress to declare war on Germany in April.
JAN161942As U.S. and Philippine soldiers conduct a delaying action on Luzon Island, 26th Cavalry Regiment troopers and their Philippine Scouts spot a detachment of Japanese troops approaching the town of Morong. LT Edwin P. Ramsey orders a cavalry charge, which surprises and scatters the enemy.
JAN161942On Bataan, U.S. Army SGT Jose Calugas - a Philippine Scout - notices that one of the gun batteries have been disabled by enemy attacks. Without orders, he charges across a 1,000-yard killzone, and organizes a crew of men to get the cannon working again. After being relieved, he returns to his normal post as mess sergeant. He falls into enemy hands when the island is captured. The Japanese put Calugas on a work detail, and he secretly joins a guerilla unit and fights to liberate the Philippines. After the war, he is finally awarded the Medal of Honor and receives a commission.
JAN161945As the Red Army drives west through Poland and the Wehrmacht is beaten back to its positions prior to their last-ditch Ardennes Offensive (the Battle of the Bulge), Adolf Hitler enters the underground bomb shelter and Nazi command post known as the Führerbunker. The German dictator will spend the rest of his life at the compound.
JAN161991When the UN deadline for Saddam Hussein to withdraw his military from Kuwait expires at midnight, hundreds of planes take off from U.S. carriers and from bases in Saudi Arabia, decimating Iraq's air force and air defense network. DESERT STORM - Saddam's "Mother of All Battles" - has begun.
JAN171781Continental Army forces under the command of BG Daniel Morgan, clash with a better-equipped, more-experienced force of British Army regulars and Loyalists under the command of LTC Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton in a sprawling pastureland known as Hannah’s Cowpens in the South Carolina upcountry. The Battle of Cowpens ends in a decisive victory for Morgan.
JAN171966A nuclear-equipped B-52 bomber flying an Operation CHROME DOME airborne alert mission off the coast of Spain collides with a KC-135 "Stratotanker" during refueling, destroying both planes. Four B28 thermonuclear weapons fall from the sky; three landing near the village of Palomares and one sinks in the Mediterranean Sea in what is one of the worst nuclear disasters in U.S. military history.
JAN171991A massive U.S. and coalition air campaign continues to pound the Iraq' air force and air defense systems, expanding the attacks to include Saddam Hussein's command and control infrastructure. Meanwhile, the dictator fires eight Soviet-built "Scud" ballistic missiles into Israel. Saddam sought to draw Israel into the campaign.
JAN1819111911: During the San Francisco Air Meet, exhibition pilot Eugene B. Ely lands his Curtiss Pusher Model "D" aircraft on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania, which had been fitted with a special 119-foot-long wooden platform with makeshift tailhook system. Ely's feat marks the first-ever airplane landing aboard a ship.
JAN181945In a speech to the House of Commons, British prime minister Winston Churchill recognizes the immense American sacrifice in the Battle of the Bulge. Possibly alluding to British general Bernard Montgomery's reluctance to engage, resulting in only 1,400 British casualties compared to well over 100,000 Americans, Churchill states "U.S. troops have done almost all the fighting, suffering losses equal to those of both sides at the Battle of Gettysburg."
JAN181951Following their return to action after the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, the First Marine Division begins mopping-up guerillas in the Pohang area of South Korea.
JAN181957Three B-52 "Stratofortress" bombers, led by MG Archie J. Old Jr., land at March Air Force Base in California after completing a non-stop flight around the world. The 45-hour mission, codenamed Operation POWER FLITE, includes three mid-air refuelings and a simulated bombing run in the Malay Peninsula, demonstrating to the world that the United States could put nuclear weapons on target anywhere in the world.
JAN191770The Battle of Golden Hill erupts in New York City between members of the patriot organization "Sons of Liberty" and a contingent of British soldiers. The clash begins when the "Sons," whom the Redcoats had labeled as "the real enemies of society," snatch a few of the King’s men, who are cutting down wooden "liberty poles." Redcoats from the nearby barracks respond, and a bayonet charge is ordered. Several are wounded on both sides, and one civilian is killed.
JAN191862In southern Kentucky, a Union force commanded by BG George H. Thomas hands the Confederates their first significant defeat of the Civil War in the Battle of Mill Springs - known to Southerners as the Battle of Fishing Creek.
JAN191967A-4 "Skyhawk" pilot CPT Michael J. Estocin (USN) earned the Distinguished Flying Cross during aerial combat over North Vietnam. His citation states: "As the leader of three Shrike-configured aircraft, Captain Estocin was responsible for providing warning, detection, and suppression of hostile surface-to-air missile activity directed at elements of the main strike group conducting a coordinated attack against the Dong Phong Thuong Railroad Bridge north of Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam. He lured the opposing missile sites to direct their fire toward his widely dispersed position by deploying the Shrike aircraft well ahead of the main strike group. During the course of the mission, Captain Estocin broadcast timely and accurate warning of enemy missile firings and personally took under fire two enemy missile site, destroying one and causing significant damage to the radar facilities of the other. He was subjected to heavy and accurate enemy anti-aircraft fire throughout the execution of these attacks. After exhausting his ordnance and at great personal peril, Captain Estocin remained on station to act as a lure in drawing any missile fire away from the remaining strike group. Only when assured that the main strike group was clear of the missile threat did Captain Estocin leave the hostile area."
JAN201914A naval aviation unit from Annapolis, MD consisting of nine officers, 23 men, seven aircraft, portable hangars, and other gear, under LT J. H. Towers” arrives at Pensacola, FL aboard the battleship USS Mississippi and the bulk-cargo ship USS Orion to set up a flying school.
JAN201944The U.S. 5th Army, commanded by LTG Mark Clark, reaches the Gustav Line and clashes with German forces near Monte Cassino, Italy. After four months of bloody fighting, the Allies will have the German Tenth Army, led by Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, on their heels and in danger of being surrounded.
JAN201968North Vietnamese Army fails to overrun Marines patrolling hills surrounding the Combat Outpost Khe Sanh. The Battle of Khe Sanh begins, and for the next 77 days, the heavily outnumbered and besieged Marines fought off their attackers, shattering two enemy divisions.
JAN211903The Militia Act of 1903 is passed, establishing federal standards and greater federal control over state militias, essentially creating the modern National Guard.
JAN21191812 officers and 133 enlisted men from the 1st Aeronautical Company arrive for anti-submarine duty at Ponta Delgada, Azores. The unit was one of the first completely equipped American aviation units to serve overseas in World War I.
JAN221944Allied forces, including the U.S. VI Corps under the command ofMG John P. Lucas, begin a series of landings along a stretch of western Italian coastline in the Anzio-Nettuno area. Codenamed SHINGLE, the Allies achieve complete surprise against the Germans.
JAN221946Four months after dismantling the Office of Strategic Services, President Harry S. Truman creates the Central Intelligence Group, the predecessor to today's Central Intelligence Agency.
JAN221954First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of USS Nautilus (SSN-571) in Groton, Connecticut, launching the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.
JAN221968With aerial photographs, ground reconnaissance reports, and a massive array of electronic sensors indicating that some 20,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers surround the Khe Sanh Combat Base, Operation NIAGRA, is underway. The massive air campaign will rain down nearly 100,000 tons of bombs - and eight times that amount of artillery shells - on the enemy.
JAN221969Operation DEWEY CANYON, the Marine Corps' last major offensive of the Vietnam War, begins. Marines under the command of COL Robert H. Barrow will spend 56 days clearing out the North Vietnamese Army's stronghold near the A Shau Valley.
JAN231870Following the murder of a Montana rancher and his son, COL Eugene Baker forms a band of infantry and cavalry in search of the Blackfoot responsible for the attack. Coming across a Blackfoot encampment, Baker orders his men to attack the camp, not caring if it was the correct group or not. The massacre sparked public outrage. President Ulysses S. Grant, wanting a "peace policy" with Native Americans, ends the Army's hopes of taking over native affairs by appointing civilian ministers instead.
JAN231945With the Soviet Army approaching, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the evacuation German citizens and troops from East Prussia, Courland, and the Polish Corridor. With hundreds of merchant vessels and German warships transporting nearly a million civilians and 350,000 troops, Operation HANNIBAL was in fact three times larger than the famous British evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940.
JAN231968North Korean warships surround the intelligence-gathering ship USS Pueblo operating in international waters in the Sea of Japan and order the crew to surrender. The enemy opens fire on the unarmed vessel and the ship is captured. One sailor is killed during the engagement. The 82 surviving Americans will endure 11 months of brutal treatment before their release.
JAN241961When a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base develops a fuel leak in its wing, the pilot flies over the ocean to vent the excess fuel before landing. However, the hole in the wing worsens significantly during the flight. Before the plane can land, it begins to oscillate wildly, and the movements manage to trigger many of the bombs' redundant arming systems. The plane breaks up mid-air and three of the eight crew members perish. The weapons landed north of Goldsboro, N.C., but fortunately, neither of the 3-plus megaton Mark 39 devices exploded.
JAN241985The first all-military Space Shuttle crew blasts off. Discovery's crew are commander Ken Mattingly (USN), pilot Loren Shriver (USAF), and specialists Ellison Onizuka (USAF), Gary Payton (USAF), and James Buchli (USMC). All are former test pilots, and Buchli served as an infantry Platoon Commander during the Vietnam War before earning his pilot’s wings.
JAN241991Helicopters carry Navy SEALs from USS Leftwich (DD-984) and USS Nicholas (FFG-47) to the Kuwaiti island of Jazirat Qurah, where the operators engage in a battle with the occupying Iraqi military. Three enemy soldiers are killed and 51 are captured, liberating the island with no American losses.
JAN241999Navy F/A-18C "Hornet" aircraft fire the AFG-154A Joint Standoff Weapon against air defense targets in Iraq, the first use of the JSOW in combat. The GPS-guided gliding cluster bomb can precisely hit targets, blanketing a football-field-sized area with deadly munitions from up to 40 miles away.
JAN251787Former Continental Army CPT Daniel Shays leads a group of 2,000 American rebels on a raid against the Springfield Armory, hoping to obtain rifles. 1,200 militia meet Shays' force, turning the attackers away by firing grapeshot into their ranks and killing four. Shays is tried and sentenced to be hanged but is pardoned.
JAN251856Marines and seamen from the sloop-of-war USS Decatur land at Seattle to protect settlers from a native attack. The Battle of Seattle lasted seven hours.
JAN251939In a basement of Columbia University, scientists split the uranium atom for the first time.
JAN251960A MIM-23 "Hawk" missile shoots down an MGR-1 "Honest John" nuclear-capable missile during tests, the first time a missile "kills" a ballistic missile.
JAN251995Although the Cold War is over, Russia and the United States are the closest the two nations will come to all-out nuclear war when a Norwegian scientific research rocket launch makes Russian missile defense radar officials think that a U.S. submarine may have launched a nuclear "Trident" missile. The Russian military goes on full alert in preparation for war and an armed nuclear briefcase sits in front of Russian President Boris Yeltsin - just one step away from mutually assured destruction. Fortunately, radar shows the rocket traveling away from Russian airspace after a few minutes and the Russians stand down.
JAN261863President Abraham Lincoln relieves MG Ambrose Burnside from his command of the Army of the Potomac, appointing Joseph Hooker in his place.
JAN261942Elements of the 133rd Infantry Regiment land at Belfast Harbor in Northern Ireland - the first American troops to arrive in Europe. The soldiers begin establishing the "air bridge" between the United States and the United Kingdom.
JAN261945A 19-year-old 2LT named Audie Murphy orders his company to fall back to safety when they are attacked by German armor and infantry. 2LT Murphy remains behind to covers their withdrawal with his M-1 carbine and directs fire support on the Germans before manning a .50-cal. machine gun mounted on a burning tank destroyer. Murphy holds off wave after wave of enemy assaults, with multiple 88-mm rounds hitting his position. After an hour of being decimated by the one-man army, the Germans withdraw. Murphy then organizes his men and leads a counterattack.
JAN261946USAAF COL William H. Councill takes off from Daugherty Field in his Lockheed P-80 "Shooting Star" on the country's first transcontinental jet flight. Councill reaches New York's La Guardia Airport in just 4 hours and 13 minutes.
JAN261968Reserve and National Guard units are mobilized following North Korea's capture of USS Pueblo and increased enemy activity in Vietnam.
JAN271837U.S. soldiers and Marines under the command of COL Archibald Henderson defeat a force of Seminole in the running battle of Hatchee-Lustee Creek.
JAN271862President Abraham Lincoln issues the first of two war orders. The first, General War Order No. One, directs U.S. Army and Naval forces to move “against the insurgent forces [of the Southern states].”
JAN271942The submarine USS Gudgeon sinks a Japanese submarine – becoming the first American sub to send an enemy warship to the bottom during World War II.
JAN271943American bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force strike German U-boat facilities at Wilhelmshaven. The bombing raid is the first U.S. Army Air Forces mission over Germany.
JAN281915President Woodrow Wilson signs into law the congressionally approved merger of the "Life Saving" and "Revenue Cutter" services, thus establishing the U.S. Coast Guard.
JAN281945The Eighth Air Force celebrates its third birthday by sending 1,006 B-24 and B-17 bombers and 249 P-51 escorts to Dortmund, Germany on Mission 809 -- a raid on marshaling yards, bridges and benzol plants, and other targets of opportunity. German air defenses shoot down seven B-24s and three B-17s, damage 464 bombers, and upon landing, another four bombers are damaged beyond repair. 16 airmen are killed, 31 wounded, and 106 missing in action.
JAN281966Marines hit the beaches of the South Vietnam's Quang Ngai province in the first amphibious landing since Korea. The Americans meet little resistance as they head inland, then move to cut off retreating North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces.
JAN281973B-52s under Operation ARC LIGHT carried out their final combat sortie in Southeast Asia - striking targets in South Vietnam.
JAN281986Space Shuttle Challenger finally blasts off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, FL, planning to put a satellite into orbit to study the approaching Halley's Comet. But 73 seconds into the flight, an O-ring on the Solid Rocket Booster fails, causing Challenger to explode.
JAN291863COL Patrick E. Connor's 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment attacks a Shoshone encampment in Washington Territory (present day Utah-Idaho border). Hundreds of Shoshone and 21 Union soldiers are killed in the Battle of Bear River.
JAN291943As Task Force 18 brings American replacement troops to Guadalcanal, Japanese land-based torpedo bombers attack the flotilla, sinking the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) and damaging a destroyer. The American warships withdraw after the Battle of Rennell Island - the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign - opening the door for the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal.
JAN291944MG James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle's Eighth Air Force bombers and escorts take off from fields across England for their largest bombing mission of the war to that point. Over 800 B-17s and B-24s target the German cities of Frankfurt and Ludwigshaven. 29 heavy bombers are lost and another five are shot up badly enough to be scrapped after limping back across the channel. 22 American airmen are killed and 299 are listed as missing in action, but the gunners and P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 Mustang escort pilots claim over 150 German warplanes and damage dozens more.
JAN291945As crews load depth charges onto the cargo ship USS Serpens (AK-97) at port in Guadalcanal, an explosion obliterates most of Serpens, killing 196 Coast Guardsmen and 58 soldiers.
JAN291991Hoping to lure the U.S.-led Coalition into a major land battle, three divisions of Iraqi soldiers invade Saudi Arabia. After a brief clash with American reconnaissance troops manning observation posts along the Saudi-Kuwaiti border, the Iraqis take the port city of Khafji.
JAN292002During his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush names Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil," claiming the three nations are state supporters of terrorism and either are actively pursuing or seek to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
JAN301862The U.S. Navy’s first ironclad ship, USS Monitor, is launched at Greenpoint, N.Y. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the turreted gunship will make history in March when she trades shots with the Confederate ironclad Virginia (a vessel built from the previously scuttled USS Merrimac) in a duel that ends with a draw at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
JAN301942A formation of over 50 Japanese bombers target Singapore harbor - unprotected by either fighters or anti-aircraft guns. Among the enemy bombardiers' targets is USS Wakefield, a former luxury ocean liner, until her conversion to a troop transport in 1941.
JAN301942The Treasury-class Coast Guard cutter USCGC Alexander Hamilton capsizes off the coast of Iceland after being torpedoed by the German submarine U-132, becoming the Coast Guard's first vessel lost during World War II.
JAN301944Just after midnight, two battalions of COL William O. Darby's Rangers march to the Italian town of Cisterna, charged with sneaking behind enemy lines to seize and hold the town until the main assault force can wipe out the Germans. Planners are unaware, however, that the two battalions of elite soldiers will be going up against several fortified divisions of enemy infantry and armor. The Rangers fight valiantly but are cut down nearly to the last man by overwhelming numbers of well-prepared Germans.
JAN301945Behind Japanese lines, a P-61 Black Widow night fighter flies overhead, distracting enemy troops while 133 soldiers of the 6th Ranger Battalion and Alamo Scouts, along with over 200 Filipino guerrillas, crawl up to conduct a surprise attack on the Cabanatuan prison camp. Once the men were in position, they ambushed the guards, knocking out the camp's defenses within a few seconds.
JAN301945In the Baltic Sea, the Soviet submarine S-13 spots massive military transport ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff as it evacuates German sailors, civilians, and wounded soldiers from Eastern Europe. Three torpedoes strike Gustloff in her port side and the ship slips under the frigid waves, taking over 9,000 souls with her to the bottom - the largest loss of life at sea by a single ship in human history.
JAN301968At 0245, a 19-man Viet Cong suicide squad blows a hole in the wall of the U.S. Embassy at Saigon, managing to hold the courtyard for six hours until paratroopers can retake the compound. 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers take the city of Hue, triggering a grueling house-to-house battle with U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers.
JAN301968The Vietnamese Tet Offensive – launched by over 70,000 jointly operating North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces – has kicked off across South Vietnam. The Communists trade their typical guerilla tactics for a risky, more conventional strategy intended to weaken the government in Saigon and inspire a revolutionary uprising.
JAN311865Robert E. Lee is promoted to General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States. Lee is the only man to hold the prestigious rank during the Confederacy's brief existence.
JAN311917Kaiser Wilhelm orders the Imperial German Navy's fleet of 105 U-boats to resume their campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, effectively causing the United States to enter World War I.
JAN311945U.S. Army PVT Eddie Slovik is executed by firing squad near Sainte Marie-aux-Mines, France for abandoning his rifle company as he admits to being "too scared" for combat. GEN Dwight Eisenhower had personally signed the execution order to discourage further desertions. To date, Slovik remains the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.
JAN311950President Harry S. Truman announces a program that would create a thermonuclear weapon, many times more powerful than the atomic weapon the Soviet Union recently tested.
JAN311971A Saturn V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, carrying Alan Shepard (USN), Stuart Roosa (USAF), and Edgar Mitchell (USN) on NASA's third manned mission to reach the lunar surface. The crew of Apollo 14 spend two days on the moon, and ten years after Shepard becomes the first American in space - he becomes the first person to hit a golf ball on the moon.
FEB11800The frigate USS Constellation under the command of CPT Thomas Truxtun defeats the French frigate La Vengeance under CPT F.M. Pitot in a night battle lasting several hours.
FEB11862Julia Ward Howe's poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is published in the Atlantic Monthly. It will become a Union Army ballad.
FEB11942VADM William Halsey Jr.'s Task Force 8 (USS Enterprise) hits Japanese facilities in the Marshall Islands, while RADM Jack Fletcher's Task Force 17 (USS Yorktown) attacks the Gilberts. The Marshalls-Gilberts Raids are the first American offensive operation against the Japanese during the war in the Pacific.
FEB11944MG Harry Schmidt's 4th Marine Division lands at Kwajalein Island and Roi-Namur. Of the 8,000 original Japanese defenders, only 300 are captured when the islands are secured after three days of combat.
FEB11961The "Minuteman I" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched for the first time in a successful "all systems" test.
FEB12003The doomed Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrates upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crewmembers. Aboard are COL Rick D. Husband (USAF), CMDR William C. McCool (USN), LTC Michael P. Anderson (USAF), CPT David M. Brown (USN), CPT Laurel Clark (USN), Israeli Air Force COL Ilan Ramon, and Kalpana Chawla, a civilian mission specialist.
FEB21848Representatives of the United States and Mexico sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially ending the Mexican-American War.
FEB21901Congress authorizes the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps under the Army Medical Department.
FEB21943The last remnants of Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus' encircled Sixth German Army surrender to the Soviets.
FEB21945As the 124th Cavalry Regiment battles to recapture the Burma Road, the troopers assault a 400-foot hill near Loi-Kang, Burma, that is heavily defended by Japanese soldiers. 1LT Jack L. Knight spearheads the advance, singlehandedly taking out two machine gun nests and multiple bunkers. Knight was mortally wounded by a grenade, but continued the charge as his men inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese. For his charge at "Knight's Hill," he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
FEB31801The U.S. Senate ratifies the Mortefontaine treaty, officially ending the Quasi War with France.
FEB31961The U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) launches its EC-135 flying command post – codenamed “Looking Glass” – to maintain seamless and secure command-and-control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event ground-based command-and-control is wiped out in a nuclear attack.
FEB41779Continental Navy CPT John Paul Jones takes command of the former French frigate Duc de Duras, renaming her Bonhomme Richard.
FEB41787Shays' Rebellion is quashed by Massachusetts militia.
FEB41942After unloading ammunition for U.S. and Filipino forces for the Battle of Bataan, the submarine USS Trout (SS-202) requests ballast to replace the tonnage she dropped off. Supplies like concrete and sandbags are unavailable, and sailors instead load the sub with 38 tons of gold bullion and silver coins that had been emptied from Filipino banks.
FEB41944After three days of combat, Marines, and Soldiers of MG Holland M. "Howlin' Mad" Smith's V Amphibious Corps secured Kwajalein Atoll.
FEB41945The Big Three -- U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin -- meet at the Crimea Conference (best known as the Yalta Conference) to discuss among other points what was to become of soon-to-be conquered Germany and the nations the Nazis had previously defeated.
FEB51914Austrian doctors examine a young Adolf Hitler, determining him unfit for service in the Austro-Hungarian military. Hitler will volunteer for the German army when war breaks out in August, serving in a reserve infantry regiment as a runner.
FEB51918U.S. Army LT Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French "Breguet" biplane bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany, making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.
FEB51943President Franklin D. Roosevelt awards MG Alexander A. Vandegrift the Medal of Honor for his role as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Guadalcanal campaign.
FEB51958An F-86 "Sabre" collides with a B-47 "Stratojet" bomber piloted by MAJ Howard Richardson during a simulated combat exercise. The Sabre pilot ejects, and the B-47's wings are severely damaged, forcing an emergency landing. Before the bomber can land safely, the crew jettisons the 7,600-lb. Mark 15 hydrogen bomb off the coast of Savannah, GA before landing at Hunter Air Force Base.
FEB61787Representatives of the French and U.S. governments sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris. France recognizes the United States as an independent nation and provides much-needed military aid.
FEB61802Congress authorizes President Thomas Jefferson to arm U.S. ships to defend against Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean.
FEB61832Marines and sailors aboard the USS Potomac attack pirates from the village of Quallah Batoo, Sumatra.
FEB61862In northwestern Tennessee, a Union Naval flotilla commanded by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and a force commanded by BG Ulysses S. Grant converge upon Fort Henry.
FEB61945USAAF B-24 and B-29 bombers begin attacking Iwo Jima in preparation for the upcoming landing. The air raid unfortunately does little to soften Japanese fortifications.
FEB61967In North Vietnam's Mu Gia Pass, Airman Second Class Duane D. Hackney volunteers to be lowered from a HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" rescue helicopter into the jungle - despite the presence of enemy forces - to locate a downed pilot. The Pararescueman comes up empty on the first attempt but finds the pilot on a second sortie. During the flight home, the helicopter is hit by anti-aircraft fire. Hackney gives the pilot his own parachute, then looks for another for himself. Before Hackney can strap on the chute, the "Jolly Green" is hit again, forcing the crew to jump. For his actions, Hackney becomes the first living recipient of the Air Force Cross.
FEB71943The submarine USS Growler (SS-215) spots the supply ship Hayasaki and begins a nighttime battle. The Japanese ship turns to ram the sub and rakes Growler's bridge with machine gun fire, wounding the skipper, CMDR Howard W. Gilmore.
FEB71943Meanwhile, the Imperial Japanese Navy completes Operation XE - the evacuation of nearly 1,800 remaining troops from Guadalcanal.
FEB71965North Vietnamese sappers attack the Camp Holloway helicopter base, killing eight, wounding over 100, and destroying over a dozen helicopters and planes. The attack prompts President Lyndon Johnson to strike back by ordering the bombing of military targets along the de-militarized zone and in North Vietnam.
FEB71984Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts Bruce McCandless (USN) and Robert L. Stewart (USA) are the first humans to "walk" untethered in space, using nitrogen-powered Manned Maneuvering Units.
FEB81862A day after 10,000 soldiers under the command of BG Ambrose Burnside, supported by a flotilla of Union gunships, land at Roanoke Island, NC, the Confederates surrender the island's four forts and two batteries.
FEB81910William D. Boyce incorporates the Boy Scouts of America. Countless boys will cut their teeth as young adventurers in Boyce's scouting program before joining the military.
FEB81981Following the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter announces his intent to reinstate draft registration. Carter's decision comes just four years after President Gerald Ford ended mandatory draft registration.
FEB81991A Marine reconnaissance unit in occupied Kuwait gives the Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) her first call for fire support in nearly 50 years. The 16-in. guns fire 29 rounds at Iraqi artillery positions, infantry bunkers, and a mechanized unit.
FEB91799In the Caribbean, the American frigate Constellation spots the larger and more heavily armed French frigate L'Insurgente and gives chase. After pursuing the French vessel through a storm, CPT Thomas Truxtun manages to force his counterpart into a clash that lasts over an hour, with Constellation inflicting heavy casualties and capturing the ship in the United States' first naval engagement since the end of the Revolutionary War.
FEB91942GEN George Marshall, GEN. Henry "Hap" Arnold, ADM Harold Stark, and ADM Ernest King meet to discuss better coordination between the Navy and War Departments - the first formal meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
FEB91965In response to the Viet Cong attack on Camp Holloway two days before, President Lyndon Johnson orders the deployment of a Marine Corps surface-to-air missile battalion to Vietnam.
FEB91972173 years after Constellation's victory in the Caribbean, the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier Constellation arrives off the coast of Vietnam.
FEB121935As the Navy's helium-filled rigid airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) flies through a storm, its tail fin and interior structural members are destroyed, puncturing the massive vessel's helium cells. The "flying aircraft carrier," which houses five Curtiss F9C-2 "Sparrowhawk" reconnaissance planes, crash-lands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Sur, CA.
FEB121947The USS Cusk launches a KGW-1 "Loon" missile, which is a reverse-engineered German V-1 flying bomb, becoming the first U.S. submarine to fire a guided missile.
FEB121991The Pentagon announces that U.S. warplanes have flown 65,000 sorties during Operation DESERT STORM. The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) fires 60 of its 16-in. projectiles in support of a combined-arms attack against Iraqi infantry, armor, artillery, and a command bunker in southern Kuwait.
FEB131861When Chiracahua Apaches capture a 60-man force of 7th Infantry soldiers in Arizona Territory, COL Bernard J.D. Irwin volunteers to lead 14 soldiers on a daring 100-mile rescue mission. With no horses available, the men of the 1st Dragoons (today's 1st Cavalry Regiment) must start their journey on mules, and Irwin's force fight their way to the beleaguered soldiers and help break the siege.
FEB131917Over Pensacola, FL, CPT Francis T. Evans (USMC) becomes the first aviator to perform a loop in a seaplane. His Curtiss N-9 stalls after the maneuver and Evans barely manages to save the plane before splashing into the Gulf of Mexico.
FEB131945Allied forces commence the three-day bombing of Dresden, Germany, creating a firestorm that killed 25,000 Germans.
FEB131945In the Philippine Islands' Luzon Straight, the crew of the submarine USS Batfish (SS-310) sinks RO-113; her third sinking in 76 hours.
FEB131965President Lyndon Johnson gives the go-ahead for Operation ROLLING THUNDER.
FEB131968In response to the Tet Offensive, President Johnson orders the deployment of 10,500 82d Airborne Division soldiers and a regimental landing team from the 5th Marine Division to Vietnam and discusses the possibility of calling up tens of thousands more Reservists and former service members in the event of a second Communist offensive.
FEB132010Helicopters bring wave after wave of American, Afghan, and other coalition forces into the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
FEB141778The Continental sloop-of-war Ranger under the command of CPT John Paul Jones fires a 13-gun salute to French ADM Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte’s fleet anchored in France’s Quiberon Bay. The French return the salute with nine guns. It is the first time America’s new flag – “the stars and stripes” – is officially recognized by a foreign power.
FEB141814The American frigate USS Constitution, commanded by CPT David Porter, captures Lovely Ann, a British armed merchant vessel, and HMS Pictou, a Royal Navy schooner, within hours of each other.
FEB141912USS E-1 (SS-24), the U.S. Navy’s first diesel-powered submarine, is commissioned in Groton, CT. The sub is skippered by an almost 27-year-old LT Chester W. Nimitz.
FEB141945As the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445) supports amphibious landings at Corregidor in the Philippines, a Japanese 6-in. coastal defense gun nails the ship's forecastle and ignites a fire in the Number 1 magazine. Knowing that he may only have seconds to extinguish the fire before it kills the ship, Water Tender Second Class Elmer C. Bigelow dives into the blazing compartment without putting on breathing apparatus. He saves the ship, but at the cost of his life. For his actions, Bigelow is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
FEB141991Air Force CPTs Tim Bennett and Dan Bakke score the only air-to-air kill for the F-15E "Strike Eagle" of Operation DESERT STORM: when responding to a distress call from a Special Forces unit, the air crew spots an Iraqi Mil Mi-24 "Hind" helicopter unloading soldiers. They fire a 2,000-lb. laser-guided bomb at the gunship, and the resulting blast "shoots down" the helicopter, which was reportedly some 800 feet above the ground.
FEB151862A week after BG Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote captured Fort Henry, the combined force besieged nearby Fort Donelson. The Confederate defenders manage to drive off Foote's gunboats but are surrounded by Grant's soldiers. BG John B. Floyd attempts a breakout, hoping to open an escape route to Nashville. Grant's men drive the Confederates back to the fort, and the next day accepts the surrender of some 12,000 soldiers.
FEB151898A terrific explosion rips through the bow of USS Maine anchored in Havana Harbor, Cuba. Within minutes, 260 U.S. sailors and Marines are dead.
FEB151944When the Fifth Air Force attack planes and bombers target the Papua New Guinea island of New Ireland, several planes are shot down. LT Nathan G. Gordon and his eight-man PBY "Catalina" seaplane crew are dispatched to rescue the downed airmen. Despite very rough seas and being targeted by heavy, close-range enemy fire, Gordon and his crew make multiple landings and pick up 15 officers and men.
FEB151944In Italy, 254 B-17 and B-25 bombers of the Twelfth Air Force destroy the centuries-old abbey atop Monte Cassino. Believing the Germans had been using the historic landmark as an observation post, GEN Sir Harold Alexander, the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Armies in Italy, had ordered its destruction.
FEB161804U.S. Navy LT Stephen Decatur sails a captured Tripolitan ketch that he had renamed USS Intrepid into the harbor at Tripoli. There, Decatur and a volunteer force of sailors and Marines board the frigate USS Philadelphia, which had been previously captured by Tripolitan pirates. After a brief but violent close quarters struggle Decatur orders Philadelphia to be burned.
FEB1619452,000 American paratroopers jump over the Philippines’ "fortress Corregidor" in one of the most difficult airborne operations of the war.
FEB161953Marine aviator - and future baseball Hall of Famer - CPT Ted Williams crash-lands his crippled Marine Corps F9F "Panther" fighter at Suwon's K-13 airstrip. During a massive 200-plane raid on a troop encampment, Williams was hit by enemy ground fire which knocked out his instrument panel, landing gear, and hydraulic system; damaged his control surfaces; and set the plane on fire. Rather than eject, Williams brings the plane down on its belly and skids down the runway for over a mile before the mortally wounded plane comes to a stop. Williams walks away with just a sprained ankle.
FEB171864The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sinks the Federal sloop-of-war USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, becoming the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship in action. It is a pyrrhic victory however as the submarine also sinks with all hands aboard.
FEB171865Columbia, S.C. falls to Union Army forces under the command of MG William Tecumseh Sherman.
FEB181944U.S. Marines land and quickly capture Engebi island, the first obstacle to seizing Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls.
FEB191945Following 74 days of aerial bombardment two U.S. Marine divisions begin hitting the beach on Day One of the epic battle for Iwo Jima.
FEB201942LT Edward "Butch" O'Hare - flying a F4F "Wildcat" from the deck of the USS Lexington (CV-2) - single-handedly shoots down five Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers and severely damages a sixth. O'Hare becomes the Navy's first ace of the war and is awarded the Medal of Honor.
FEB201944U.S. Army Air Forces and Britain’s Royal Air Force begin Operation ARGUMENT, a massive thousand-plus bomber offensive aimed at destroying the German Air Force and Luftwaffe manufacturing facilities to achieve irreversible air superiority before the Normandy landings.
FEB201962Nearly five hours after blasting off from Cape Canaveral, FL in an Atlas LV-3B rocket, USMC LTC John H. Glenn Jr.'s Friendship 7 splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean and is recovered by the destroyer USS Noa. Glenn has just become the first American to orbit the Earth.
FEB202008The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie launches a modified SM-3 surface-to-air missile at a malfunctioning satellite that was about to re-enter Earth's atmosphere. Although designed to intercept ballistic missiles, the SM-3 hits the satellite, which was traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, some 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
FEB211945As Task Force 58's carrier-based planes fly close air support for the Marines fighting on Iwo Jima, Japanese kamikaze pilots target the flattops. One plane hits the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), igniting the ship's magazines. Once crews have nearly contained the blaze, another slams into the ship and disables the firefighting system. Bismarck Sea is destroyed, killing 318 officers and men, and is the last American carrier sunk in the war.
FEB211961As the "Mercury Seven" astronauts begin their final phase of training, NASA selects Alan Shepard (USN), "Gus" Grissom (USAF), and John Glenn (USMC) as the pilots that will fly the United States' first missions to space.
FEB211991During Operation DESERT STORM, Marine Attack Squadron 331 begins flying the first-ever AV-8B "Harrier II" operations from a landing helicopter assault ship, the USS Nassau (LHA-4).
FEB212001At Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base, a General Atomics RQ-1 "Predator" busts a tank with an AGM-114 "Hellfire" missile during testing, marking the first armored kill by an unmanned aerial vehicle.
FEB221847Although outnumbered more than three-to-one, MG Zachary Taylor 4,500-man force defeats Antonio López de Santa Anna in the Battle of Buena Vista.
FEB221862Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the Confederacy's first official president. Davis had been serving as the provisional president.
FEB221909President Theodore Roosevelt’s "Great White Fleet" returns to Hampton Roads, VA after sailing around the world in a grand show of American Naval power.
FEB221942President Franklin Roosevelt orders GEN Douglas MacArthur, America's only general with experience fighting the Japanese, to leave the Philippines. He delays the trip as long as possible, departing by PT boat on March 11.
FEB221967The U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade conducts the first and only mass parachute jump of the Vietnam War.
FEB221974LT J.G. Barbara Ann Allen Rainey pins on her wings, becoming the first female Naval aviator. Rainey is assigned to a transport squadron, flying C-1 "Trader" planes.
FEB231778Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian Army officer arrives at Valley Forge with the task of whipping the Continental Army into shape.
FEB231836The advance elements of a 4,000-plus-man Mexican army under the command of GEN Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna begin the siege of the isolated Texas Army garrison at the Alamo.
FEB231847During the Mexican-American War, a Mexican army under Santa Anna launches a series of attacks against a numerically inferior U.S. Army force under the command of GEN Zachary Taylor near Buena Vista. Though surprised and outnumbered, the Americans beat back the Mexicans who are forced to withdraw.
FEB231942The Japanese submarine I-17 surfaces off the Santa Barbara Coast and attacks the Ellwood Oil Field. The sub's 5.5-inch gun inflicts minimal damage, but the incident causes an invasion scare along the Pacific coast and leads to the internment of Japanese-American citizens.
FEB231945After several days of savage fighting, U.S. Marines capture the summit of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Just after 1030., a small flag is raised on Suribachi. But an officer orders a larger flag be hoisted so that it might be seen from the far end of the island.
FEB231955The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker makes its first flight. The mid-air refueller was built to serve Strategic Air Command's B-52 fleet.
FEB231991A Marine patrol engages a group of 12 Iraqi tanks, destroying four with TOW missiles. The surviving tanks flee but are targeted by artillery and air support.
FEB241813The sloop-of-war USS Hornet under the command of CPT James Lawrence sinks the Royal Navy brig HMS Peacock in a swift action.
FEB241991At 0400 the lead elements of the enormous coalition ground force surges forward into Iraq and Kuwait aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait.
FEB251779Following an arduous campaign through freezing floodwaters, a joint American-French force under Virginia militia LTC George Rogers Clark captures British-held Fort Sackville at Vincennes in the Illinois backcountry.
FEB261949Lucky Lady II, a U.S. Air Force B-50 "Superfortress" bomber flown by CPT James Gallagher and his 13-man crew, takes off from Fort Carswell on their first leg of the first-ever nonstop flight around the world.
FEB261955As North American Aviation test pilot Charles F. Smith tests an F-100 "Super Sabre" prior to the fighter's delivery to the Air Force, his controls freeze up, sending the fighter into a dive. Smith ejects at 777 miles per hour and becomes the first airman to punch out of an aircraft traveling at supersonic speeds. He is subjected to over 40 G's during violent deceleration, which destroys much of his parachute. The unconscious pilot lands in the Pacific Ocean, remarkably less than 100 yards from a former Naval rescue worker on his fishing boat. Smith will spend the next seven months in the hospital recovering.
FEB261991Although Saddam Hussein refers to it as a withdrawal and not a retreat, his forces are being routed in Kuwait by the American-led ground campaign.
FEB271942A flotilla of 14 Dutch, British, Australian, and American ships suffer a disastrous defeat at the hands of a much-larger Japanese invasion force in the Battle of the Java Sea.
FEB271942USS Langley (AV-3) is sunk by Japanese land-based aircraft while ferrying P-40 "Warhawk" attack planes to Java.
FEB271963Test pilots from the Hughes Tool Company conduct the first test flight of their Model 369 prototype helicopter, which will become the OH-6 "Cayeuse" helicopter when it enters service with the Army in 1966.
FEB271991The 1st Marine Division captures Kuwait International Airport, and the 2nd Marine Division has cut off any further egress routes from Kuwait City.
FEB281844As the screw steamship USS Princeton carries President John Tyler, members of his Cabinet, and some 400 other guests on a demonstration cruise up the Potomac River, CPT Robert F. Stockton fires the massive 12" gun, nicknamed "Peacemaker," which explodes. Shrapnel flies through the crowd killing seven onlookers, including Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur and Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Gilmer.
FEB281864BG Hugh Judson Kilpatrick leads 3,500 Union cavalry troopers around Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee's flank and heads south towards Richmond. He is routed by defenders and the plan to burn Richmond is thwarted.
FEB281893The U.S. Navy launches its first "true battleship," USS Indiana (BB-1). The 350-foot-long vessel required a crew of 32 officers and 441 men and featured two twin 13" .35 cal. Mark 1 guns, four twin 8" .35 cal. guns, and dozens of batteries of smaller calibers.
FEB281994Two pairs of USAF F-16 "Fighting Falcons" conduct the first combat operation in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) history, when the fighters engage a flight of Serbian Air Force attack aircraft on a bombing mission in the no-fly zone.
MAR11942Southwest of Newfoundland, ENS William Tepuni, of Patrol Squadron 82 (VP-82), spots a German U-boat. He targets U-656 with depth charges dropped from his Lockheed PBO-1 "Hudson" - the first sinking of a submarine by the United States during World War II.
MAR11944While hunting a Wolfpack of German subs in the North Atlantic at night, the Cannon-class destroyer escort USS Bronstein (DE-189) spots U-709 on the surface, preparing to attack the American task force. Bronstein hits the sub several times with her guns, and together with her fellow destroyer escorts, sink the sub with depth charges. The crew then spots another U-boat with their sonar and quickly sends U-603 to the bottom with more depth charges.
MAR11954The United States conducts its largest-ever nuclear weapons test, nicknamed CASTLE BRAVO, in the Bikini Atoll. In just one second, the blast creates a 4.5-mile-wide fireball and produces a mushroom cloud that rises nearly 25 miles high by 62 miles across. The 15-megaton explosion is 1,000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan nine years before.
MAR12002Operation ANACONDA, the first large-scale combat operation in Afghanistan since the Battle of Tora Bora, kicks off when a Navy SEAL reconnaissance team, aided by air support from an AC-130 gunship, destroys an enemy heavy machine gun position. This marked the first time that conventional U.S. forces are used in a combat operation in Afghanistan.
MAR219421LT Ed Dyess leads a daring raid against Japanese supply depot at Subic Bay. With his P-40 fighter set up to fly as a dive bomber, Dyess destroys multiple buildings and destroys or damages numerous ships in three sorties.
MAR21943Elements of the USAAF and Royal Australian Air Force intercept and all-but-destroy an entire Japanese troop-transport convoy in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
MAR21965100 American warplanes cross into North Vietnam, targeting an ammunition dump at Xom Bang. Operation ROLLING THUNDER has begun.
MAR31776250 Continental Marines and sailors led by Marine CPT Samuel Nicholas land at New Providence Island in the Bahamas, quickly capturing Fort Montague from the British in the first amphibious operation in American military history.
MAR31815The U.S. Congress authorizes American Naval action against the pirate state of Algiers.
MAR31883The U.S. Congress approves the creation of the “new Navy” with an authorization to build three “steel-protected cruisers” and a “steel dispatch boat.” The authorization begins a steel-ship renaissance for the U.S. Navy.
MAR31931The U.S. Congress adopts “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the official national anthem.
MAR41944B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF participate in the first daylight bombing raid over Berlin.
MAR51770A contingent of armed British soldiers fire into a crowd of protesting colonists in what will become known as the Boston Massacre. Five colonists are killed. The soldiers, charged with murder, will contend the protestors were threatening them with rocks and clubs.
MAR51946During a speech near St. Louis, MO, Former British prime minister Winston Churchill declares that an "iron curtain" has fallen across Europe. Behind it lie capitals now under the control or influence of the Kremlin.
MAR51953While it is not clear whether brought on by natural causes or an assassination attempt, a cerebral hemorrhage claims the life of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. Even without counting the 10-20 million Soviet military and civilian fatalities during World War II, more people died because of Stalin's rule than perhaps any ruler in human history.
MAR51966The "Ballad of the Green Berets" composed by U.S. Army Special Forces SSG Barry Sadler and author Robin Moore hits the number-one spot on the Billboard Chart where it will remain for five weeks.
MAR51991Iraq hands 15 American prisoners of war - including two female soldiers - over to the Red Cross. Captured during Operation DESERT STORM, the U.S. service members endured brutal treatment, and some were paraded on television.
MAR61836Following a two-week siege, the Alamo falls to Mexican forces after the Texas garrison puts up one of the most heroic defenses in American military history.
MAR61942The U.S. Army Air School at Tuskegee, AL graduates its first class of black aviators.
MAR61944One day after sinking the American submarine USS Grampus, the Japanese destroyers Murusame and Minegumo are themselves sunk in the Battle of Blackett Straight. RADM Aaron S. Merrill's Task Force 68 use the Navy's new radar fire control system to target enemy warships.
MAR61944Nearly 700 B-17 and B-24 bombers conduct a daylight raid against Berlin - the first major American mission against the Nazi regime's capital.
MAR61965The White House announces that 3,500 Marines will be deployed to South Vietnam to guard the air base at Da Nang.
MAR61990An SR-71 "Blackbird" flown by LTC Ed Yeilding and his reconnaissance systems officer, LTC J. T. Vida streaked from Oxnard, CA to Washington D.C.'s Dulles Air Field in 1 hour and 8 minutes, a blistering 2,112.52 miles per hour. This record-setting flight is the last run for the Blackbird, which is headed to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
MAR71945U.S. Army armored forces race to seize the strategically vital Ludendorff (Remagen) Bridge before the Germans blow the structure. The Americans are successful, thus enabling the allies to establish a bridgehead on the enemy side of the Rhine River.
MAR71961USAF MAJ Robert M. White's North American Aviation X-15 rocketplane breaks away from a B-52 "Stratofortress," streaking through the desert sky to a record of 2,905 miles per hour.
MAR71966Air Force and Navy pilots fly over 200 sorties against a North Vietnamese oil storage facility and a staging area - the most action American airmen have seen since Operation ROLLING THUNDER began.
MAR71972President Richard Nixon expands the range that U.S. warplanes are allowed to target North Vietnamese anti-aircraft sites to 120 miles north of the de-militarized zone.
MAR72003President George W. Bush delivers an ultimatum: "Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours."
MAR81930A former PVT in the NY National Guard's 104th Field Artillery Division, George Herman "Babe" Ruth, signs a two-year, $160,000 contract with the New York Yankees, becoming the highest paid player in baseball.
MAR81941Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hugh Mulcahy becomes the first major league baseball player drafted into the military.
MAR81943A single PBY "Catalina" from Patrol Squadron 53 (VP-53) spots a surfaced German U-boat in the Caribbean. The sub's crew are too busy sunbathing to notice LT J.E. Dryden's plane bearing down on them, and his depth charges sink U-156.
MAR81944Allen Dulles, the Swiss Director for the Office of Strategic Services, begins secret negotiations with generals Heinrich von Veitinghoff of the Wehrmacht and Karl Wolff of the SS - hoping to secure the early surrender of German forces in Italy.
MAR81965The lead elements of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines begin coming ashore at Da Nang, South Vietnam. Within hours, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines will arrive aboard transport aircraft at the nearby airbase. The Marines of 3/9 and 1/3 are the first American ground-combat forces destined for offensive operations against the enemy in Southeast Asia.
MAR81983In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, President Ronald Reagan labels the Soviet Union an "evil empire."
MAR81991Just days after Saddam Hussein surrenders, the first planes carrying U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf begin arriving home.
MAR91847Over 11,000 American soldiers and a company-sized force of Marines under the overall command of U.S. Army MG Winfield Scott and "Home Squadron" Commodore David E. Conner begin landing at Collado Beach, Mexico, just south of Vera Cruz.
MAR91862In day-two of the now-famous Battle of Hampton Roads, the Confederate Navy’s ironclad warship, CSS Virginia and her Union rival, the also-ironclad USS Monitor, begin exchanging shots in history’s first duel of ironclads.
MAR91918CPT James Ely Miller, flying a borrowed French SPAD S.VII C.1 fighter, encounters a flight of four German aircraft and is shot down near Corbény, France. He is the first American airman to perish in World War I.
MAR91919While anchored at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, USS Texas becomes the first battleship to launch an airplane. LCDR Edward O. McDonnell, who earned the Medal of Honor during the Veracruz campaign in 1914, launches a Sopwith Camel from a special platform constructed atop the Number 2 turret.
MAR101783Three Royal Navy ships open fire on Continental Navy ships Duc De Lauzun and Alliance off the coast of Cape Canaveral, FL, but are defeated in what became the last naval engagement of the American Revolution.
MAR101945Having taken off from bases in the Mariana Islands before midnight, 279 B-29 "Stratofortress" bombers, stripped of guns and other expendable equipment, arrive over Tokyo. 1,667 tons of incendiary devices fall on the city, sparking a firestorm that would consume more than 15 square miles.
MAR101967During a routine bombing run north of Hanoi, two F-4 “Phantom” aircraft were struck by anti-aircraft fire. One F-4 piloted by CPT Earl Aman was severely damaged and did not have fuel to make it back to friendly Laotian territory. Flight Lead CPT John “Bob” Pardo proceeded to use his own damaged F-4 to push Aman’s F-4 88 miles to safe airspace by placing the arresting hook of the damaged aircraft against his own windscreen. After safely crossing into Laotian airspace and having fallen to 6,000 feet, the two pilots and their Weapon System Officers bail out and are picked up by rescue helicopters. Both Pardo and his WSO receive the Silver Star for the maneuver.
MAR111862President Abraham Lincoln fires GEN George B. McClellan from his post as general-in-chief due to McClellan's unwillingness to attack the Confederate army.
MAR111918USAAC LT Paul Baer singlehandedly attacks seven German aircraft over Cerney-les-Reims, France, shooting down one. Baer's victory is the first for American pilots not serving in foreign air forces, and he is awarded the Air Corps' first Distinguished Service Cross.
MAR111941The United States becomes an "arsenal of democracy" when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act. The program provided over $50 billion in funds, weapons, aircraft, and ships to allied nations.
MAR111945B-29 "Stratofortress" bombers conduct a strategic bombing campaign against mainland Japan.
MAR111965The U.S. Navy conducts the first patrols of Operation MARKET TIME. The blockade lasts eight-and-a-half years and effectively blocks enemy troops and supplies from reaching South Vietnam by sea.
MAR121942President Franklin Roosevelt appoints ADM Ernest J. King, who was serving as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet, to also fill the role of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).
MAR121956Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CVA-11), Attack Squadron 83 (VFA-83) sails to the Mediterranean Sea, marking the first-time aircraft armed with air-to-air missiles deploy overseas. The aviators fly the F7U "Cutlass" fighter and carry the AIM-7A "Sparrow" radar-guided missile.
MAR121956The F-100 "Super Sabre" is the Air Force's first supersonic Air Force jet, and is destined to serve with the 45th Fighter Day Squadron out of Morocco. Unofficially, the Air Force secretly flew F-100s to West Germany in 1955 for high altitude photo reconnaissance over Eastern Bloc nations during Operation SLICK CHICK.
MAR131865Desperate for manpower on the front lines, the Confederate government approves enlisting and arming slaves. Although GEN Robert E. Lee requested that slaves who fought should be granted freedom, the bill did not allow such a provision.
MAR131942The U.S. Army establishes the "K-9 Corps" - training dogs to serve in sentry, scout, messenger, and mine detection duties during World War II.
MAR131953F-86 "Super Sabre" pilot COL Royal N. "The King" Baker shoots down his 13th enemy fighter of the Korean War - the United States' top ace at the time.
MAR131963Two Soviet reconnaissance planes fly over Alaska on what is the first known Russian penetration of U.S. airspace.
MAR141945A Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bomber drops the first "Grand Slam" bomb, targeting a railway viaduct in Schildesche, Germany. After being released, the 22,000-lb. earthquake bomb would reach near-supersonic speeds, then penetrate several feet into the ground, destroying hardened targets like submarine pens or ruining the foundation underneath bridges.
MAR141945On Iwo Jima, PVT Franklin E Sigler leads his squad on an assault against a Japanese machine gun nest that had been holding up his company for several days. Sigler reaches the position first and neutralizes it with grenades. As additional enemy troops begin firing from tunnels and caves near his location, he keeps pressing the attack. Despite his own painful wounds and heavy incoming fire, Sigler carries three of his wounded Marines to safety before returning to the fight.
MAR141951For the second time during the Korean War, United Nations forces recapture the South Korean capital of Seoul - this time under the command of U.S. Army GEN Matthew B. Ridgway.
MAR141965U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launch the second bombing wave of Operation ROLLING THUNDER, targeting facilities on Tiger Island, off the North Vietnamese coast, and the ammunition depot at Phu Qui, 100 miles south of Hanoi.
MAR141995Norman E. Thagard, a Marine fighter pilot that flew 163 combat missions during the Vietnam War before becoming an astronaut, blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan becoming the first American cosmonaut.
MAR151781British Army forces under the command of LTG Charles Cornwallis march toward a pyrrhic victory over Continental Army and militia forces commanded by MG Nathaniel Greene at Guilford Courthouse, NC.
MAR151916As World War I rages in Europe, a U.S. Army expeditionary force under the command of GEN John J. “Blackjack” Pershing crosses into Mexico in pursuit of the bandit, Pancho Villa.
MAR151947ENS John W. Lee, Jr. joins the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CV-33), becoming the first black commissioned officer to serve in the regular Navy.
MAR151965Army Chief of Staff GEN Harold K. Johnson, a survivor of the Bataan Death March during World War II and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross in Korea, reports to President Lyndon Johnson after a visit to Vietnam that Operation ROLLING THUNDER is having little effect.
MAR161802President Thomas Jefferson signs into law the establishment of a corps of engineers, which "shall be stationed at West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a Military Academy." The United States Military Academy is born.
MAR161916CPT Townsend F. Dodd and his observer, 1st Aero Squadron Commander CPT Benjamin D. Foulois, fly across the Mexican border on the United States military's first reconnaissance flight over enemy territory.
MAR161945Iwo Jima is finally declared secure. ADM Chester Nimitz states, "By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
MAR161966Neil A. Armstrong (USN) and David R. Scott (USAF) rocket into space aboard Gemini VIII, conducting the first docking operation in space. Gemini VIII suffered NASA's first critical in-space system failure and had to abort the mission, splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean instead of the planned site in the Atlantic.
MAR161984The terrorist group Hezbollah captures CIA Beirut station chief William F. Buckley on his way to work. The former Special Forces LTC and veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars will spend 14 brutal months in captivity before dying.
MAR161988When forces from Nicaragua's government crossed into Honduras to strike Contra rebel targets, President Ronald Reagan deploys two battalions of the 82d Airborne Division and another two battalions of the 7th Light Infantry Division - 3,200 troops in total - to Honduras as a show of force.
MAR171776After an 11-month siege by George Washington's Continental Army and the recent fortification of nearby Dorcester Heights with cannons captured from Fort Ticonderoga, GEN Sir William Howe decides to evacuate the nearly 10,000 British troops garrisoned in Boston.
MAR171973The first U.S. prisoners of war are released from the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison camp in North Vietnam.
MAR181945~1,250 American bombers and their fighter escorts roar toward Berlin in one of the U.S. Army Air Forces’ “heaviest” bombing raids on the German capitol.
MAR181945ADM Marc A. Mitscher’s Fast Carrier “Task Force 58” begins a several-day series of attacks on Japanese bases at Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku in preparation for the forthcoming Okinawa campaign.
MAR191945The aircraft carrier USS Franklin sails to within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland - closer than any U.S. carrier during World War II. A lone Japanese bomber slips through the flattop's defenses and hits Franklin with two armor-piercing bombs. The bombs detonate below the flight deck, igniting fires and devastating the ship. Around 800 sailors are killed and another 400 wounded - the highest casualties for a surviving ship during the war.
MAR191989The jointly developed Bell-Boeing V-22 "Osprey" makes its maiden flight.
MAR191992Two F-15 "Eagles" intercept a pair of Russian Tu-95 "Bear" bombers near the Alaskan coast - the first such confrontation since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
MAR192003Acting on intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein was visiting his sons at a location called Dora Farms, a pair of F-117 "Nighthawk" stealth fighters level the compound with bunker buster bombs. Unfortunately, the dictator was not there.
MAR192003U.S. ships and subs launch 40 cruise missiles at three targets in Baghdad, special operations forces knock out dozens of Iraqi observation posts along the border, and teams blow holes in the sand berms in preparation for the invasion. Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has begun.
MAR201863Confederate cavalry under the command of Kentucky raider, BG John Hunt Morgan, strikes a sizeable Union reconnaissance force under COL Albert S. Hall at Vaught’s Hill, Tennessee. Though outnumbered and surrounded, Hall’s hilltop position enables the colonel to beat back a series of attacks until Morgan is forced to disengage.
MAR201922America’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV-1), is commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia. She had been converted from the coaling ship USS Jupiter that supplied ships during World War I.
MAR201941U.S. intelligence warns the Soviets of the possibility that Germany may invade the Soviet Union.
MAR201942U.S. Army GEN Douglas MacArthur delivers his famous "I shall return" speech at an Australian train station.
MAR221820Commodore Stephen Decatur is mortally wounded in a duel with Commodore James Barron near Bladensburg, Maryland.
MAR221947President Harry S. Truman announces that his administration will conduct a loyalty evaluation to ensure that federal employees are not communist.
MAR221956A P2B-1S (the Navy's designation for a B-29 "Superfortress") experiences a runaway propeller while preparing to launch a Douglas rocketplane. The prop breaks away, causing serious damage to the mothership, and the rocketplane must abort its mission and glide to its landing site.
MAR221968After four years of leading Military Assistance Command-Vietnam, GEN William Westmoreland is promoted to Army Chief of Staff.
MAR231775In a speech before the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry exclaims, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
MAR231776As a force-multiplier for the fledgling Continental Navy, the Continental Congress authorizes the employment of privateers against “enemies of these United Colonies,” specifically Great Britain, her commercial shipping, privately owned vessels, and ships of the Royal Navy.
MAR231815Though the War of 1812 has officially ended, the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Penguin under the command of CPT James Dickenson engages the sloop USS Hornet under CPT James Biddle off the South Atlantic archipelago Tristan da Cunha.
MAR231943Elements of Germany's vaunted Afrika Korps clash with U.S. Army forces led by LTG George Patton near the oasis of El Guettar in Tunisia.
MAR231945When the U.S. Third Army, the Second British Army, and the First Canadian Army cross the Rhine River Adolf Hitler orders a counterattack. However, the Fuhrer is advised that there are no longer any reserve troops available.
MAR231965A Titan II rocket blasts Gemini III astronauts Gus Grissom (USAF) and John Young (USN) into space on the first manned Gemini mission. The four-hour spaceflight is the first time a spacecraft makes an orbital maneuver and is the first time NASA sends two men into space.
MAR231994An Air Force F-16 "Falcon" collides with a C-130 "Hercules" while both aircraft attempt to land at Pope Air Force Base. The fighter pilots eject, and their crippled F-16 slams into an area where 82d Airborne paratroopers were preparing for a jump. A C-141 "Starlifter" is destroyed, 24 paratroopers are killed, and over 100 soldiers are wounded in the "All American" division's worst loss of life since World War II.
MAR232003Task Force Tarawa under the command of BG Richard F. Natonski attack Iraqi forces in heavy fighting at An Nasiriyah.
MAR241945Paratroopers of MG Matthew B. Ridgway’s XVIII Airborne Corps strike and seize key German positions on the enemy side of the Rhine River.
MAR241959Elvis Presley is sworn into the Army as a private. He ultimately reached the rank of sergeant before completing his two years of active-duty service. Elvis was a jeep driver and reconnaissance scout, although he could also drive, load, and fire the M-48 Patton tank.
MAR241986After dictator Muammar Gaddhafi declares the entire Gulf of Sidra to be Libyan territorial waters, the U.S. Navy begins freedom of navigation operations. When the U.S. Sixth Fleet, consisting of three aircraft carriers and their air wings, as well as nearly two dozen cruisers, frigates, and destroyers ships cross Gaddhafi's so-called "Line of Death," Libyan warplanes and vessels begin challenging the Americans.
MAR241999NATO's bombing campaign against Slobodan Milosevic's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia begins. U.S. Air Force F-15 pilots COL Cesar Rodriguez and CPT Mike Shower each shoot down an enemy MiG-29 on the first night of combat operations.
MAR251863Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton presents six Union Army soldiers with the first-ever Medals of Honor.
MAR251864Confederate cavalry under the command of MG Nathan Bedford Forrest, “the wizard of the saddle,” strike Union forces under COL Stephen G. Hicks in the Battle of Paducah, Kentucky.
MAR251915While on maneuvers off the coast of Hawaii, USS F-4 (SS-23) develops a fatal leak, going down with the entire 21-man crew and becoming the first commissioned submarine lost at sea.
MAR251999F-15C "Eagle" pilot CPT Jeffrey C.J. Hwang becomes the first airman to simultaneously engage and destroy two targets in aviation history when he uses AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles to shoot down two Serbian Air Force MiG-29s that were violating Bosnian airspace during Operation ALLIED FORCE.
MAR261942RADM John W. Wilcox, Jr.'s Task Force 39 departs for Britain, where they will join the Royal Navy's Home Fleet.
MAR26194415 soldiers from Company D of the Office of Strategic Services' 2677th Special Reconnaissance Battalion, captured while attempting to sabotage rail lines some 250 miles behind enemy lines, are shot by German firing squad, and dumped in a mass grave.
MAR261945GEN George Patton dispatches a 300-man force on a secret mission to liberate a prisoner-of-war camp near Hammelburg, Germany. The mission behind enemy lines is a failure - dozens of tanks and vehicles are lost and only 35 men return, with the remaining would-be rescuers themselves becoming prisoners.
MAR261949The 10-engine B-36 made its first flight on this date in 1949.
MAR261954In the Bikini Atoll, the United States sets off a TX-17 thermonuclear device, which produces far more yield than designers had planned. At 11 megatons (instead of an estimated 3-5), the CASTLE BRAVO test is the third largest ever conducted by the United States. The prototype used on this date becomes the Mark 17 bomb, carried by the massive B-36 "Peacemaker" bomber, and is the first mass produced and air-deployed thermonuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal.
MAR261957The Army Ballistic Missile Agency launches a Jupiter rocket carrying the Explorer 3 satellite. During its mission, Explorer 3 discovers the Van Allen radiation belts.
MAR261959Italy agrees to the deployment of two Jupiter ballistic missile squadrons. Italy will operate the missiles with U.S. personnel overseeing the nuclear warheads.
MAR271794President George Washington signs "An act to provide a naval armament" authorizing the construction of six frigates.
MAR271814During the War of 1812, a force of 2,000 U.S. soldiers and ~600 Native American allies led by BG Andrew Jackson annihilate 1,000 Creek Indians in Mississippi Territory. Jackson's brutal victory in the Battle of Horseshoe Band brings an end to the Creek War.
MAR271836GEN Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna orders that the prisoners of war from the Texas Revolution be executed by firing squad.
MAR271945As the Soviet Red Army captures Danzig and the Anglo-American forces having crossed the Rhine River, Supreme Allied Commander GEN Dwight Eisenhower writes Soviet premier Joseph Stalin to coordinate the final assault on Nazi Germany.
MAR271945The 5th Marine Division ships out for Hawaii to prepare for the invasion of Japan.
MAR271953When the Marines launch a counterattack against entrenched communist forces at Outpost Reno, Corpsman Francis C. Hammond exposes himself to enemy fire to treat his wounded Marines for four exhausting hours, becoming critically wounded himself. When his unit was ordered to withdraw, Hammond remains behind to assist the incoming medics treat and evacuate the casualties but is killed by an enemy mortar. For his actions, Hammond was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
MAR271964Within moments after the Great Alaskan Earthquake the U.S. military is on-hand to assist with recovery efforts. The magnitude 9.2 earthquake and its accompanying tsunami wave kills 139 Alaskans.
MAR271975The U.S. Navy begins a four-day evacuation that saves ~30,000 South Vietnamese from the communist invasion. The refugees are so desperate that they cling to the landing gear and air stairs as the planes take off.
MAR271999On the fourth night of Operation ALLIED FORCE, LTC Dale Zelko's F-117A "Nighthawk" stealth fighter is hit by a Yugoslavian Army surface-to-air missile after completing a bombing run over Belgrade.
MAR281966While serving as a corpsman with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in Quang Ngai Province, PO Robert R. Ingraham's platoon was hammered by automatic weapons fire from around 100 North Vietnamese soldiers. Over the next several hours, Ingraham disregarded heavy incoming fire and treated his fellow Marines, patching up wounds, distributing ammunition, all the while ignoring four bullet wounds he received during the battle - one of which was life-threatening. For his selfless actions, Ingraham was awarded the Medal of Honor.
MAR281973After having flown out of South Vietnamese air bases for nearly 12 years, the last Pacific Air Force aircraft leaves South Vietnam.
MAR291911After a series of disappointing firearm designs The U.S. Army selects Colt's Model of 1911 .45-cal pistol to become the service's new standard-issue sidearm.
MAR291973The last official ground combat forces fly out of Vietnam.
MAR301944450 American and British heavy bombers destroy thousands of buildings in historic downtown Sofia in the war's heaviest raid on the Bulgarian capital.
MAR301945The Royal Air Force's Bomber Command conducts what becomes its deadliest mission of the war during a strike on Nuremburg, Germany. 795 bombers set out on the mission and 95 are shot down or crash-land on the return trip.
MAR301945While the U.S. First Army begins their attack on Paderborn, Germany, the Soviet Red Army captures Danzig (in the north) and crosses into Occupied Austria (to the south).
MAR301981President Ronald Reagan is shot during an assassination attempt at the Washington D.C. Hilton Hotel. While the president lost half his blood and was in shock from the gunshot, the 70-year-old former cavalry officer makes a full recovery - thanks to his fitness and the quick actions of his Secret Service agents.
APR11945The first of 50,000 U.S. troops land on the beaches of Okinawa. Tenth Army quickly sweeps across southern portion of the island - capturing the Japanese airfields at Kadena and Yomitan within hours after landing.
APR21781Off the coast of France, the frigate USS Alliance captures two British privateers - the brigs Mars and Minerva.
APR21865After a siege lasting 292 days, Union forces under the command of LTG Ulysses S. Grant break through the thin Confederate lines in the Third Battle of Petersburg.
APR21944The first B-29 bomber lands in Chakulia, India, destined to serve in the Twentieth Air Force upon its creation in three days. Initially conducting operations from bases in China, Burma, and India, the Twentieth will carry out the strategic bombing against Japanese targets.
APR21951Two Grumman F9F-2B "Panthers" from Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-191) catapult from the deck of USS Princeton (CV-37) for an attack on a railroad bridge near Songjin, North Korea - marking the first time the Navy uses jet fighters in a bomber role.
APR21982Argentina launches an amphibious invasion of the British-held Falkland Islands. Caught by surprise, the Royal Navy hastily assembles a task force and sails south. In ten weeks, the United Kingdom reclaims their territories, thanks to material support from the United States.
APR31865During the Battle of Namozine Church, 2LT Thomas W. Custer of the 6th Michigan Cavalry earns his first of two Medals of Honor. Serving alongside his older brother, BG George Armstrong Custer, Thomas captures the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry's regimental flag.
APR31865Union troops march into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va. The government had evacuated the city by rail the day before. Soldiers and citizens burned buildings set buildings on fire as they departed, and the conflagration will consume some 35 blocks of Richmond. It takes Union soldiers until the afternoon to contain the blaze.
APR31942Japan's 14th Army, led by LTG Masaharu Homma, launches a major offensive against American and Filipino forces on the Bataan Peninsula.
APR31946GEN Homma is convicted of nearly 50 counts of war crimes for his troops' treatment of prisoners in the Bataan Death March and is shot by firing squad.
APR31965In North Vietnam, Korean War ace COL James Robinson "Robbie" Risner leads a group of 79 planes in an attack on the Thanh Hoa Bridge. Although Air Force pilots score numerous direct hits on the bridge, they only manage to halt traffic for a few hours. This mission marks the first of 871 unsuccessful sorties against the stubborn bridge, and the first dogfight of the Vietnam War.
APR31965The Air Force targets the vital Paul Doumer Bridge for the first time. The mile-long bridge is the only span across the Red River connecting Hanoi and Haiphong Harbor, also withstanding strike after strike and becomes a symbol of communist resistance to the U.S. bombing campaign.
APR31965Two B-57 Canberra bombers, supported by a C-130 flare ship, fly the first interdiction mission on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southeastern Laos as part of the covert Operation STEEL TIGER.
APR31969Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird introduces "Vietnamization," the Nixon Administration's plan to gradually withdraw U.S. combat forces while preparing the South Vietnamese to assume responsibility for the conflict, which had already cost over 30,000 American lives.
APR41933During a storm off the coast of New Jersey, the Navy's massive helium-filled airship USS Akron crashes into the ocean. 73 of the flying aircraft carrier's 76 crew members and passengers perish, mostly due to drowning and hypothermia.
APR41975During the first flight of Operation BABYLIFT, an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport loaded with orphans from Saigon hospital experiences an explosive decompression and attempts an emergency landing at nearby Tan Son Nhat Airport. CPT Dennis W. Traynor, III and CPT Tilford W. Harp fight to keep the plane airborne with only one aileron and the thrust of the engines. The C-5 crash-lands in a rice paddy short of the runway, killing 138 passengers.
APR51862The Army of the Potomac - the largest army fielded in the United States to that point - clashes with Confederate forces at Yorktown.
APR51911The Army creates a provisional aero company in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as part of the military buildup on the southern border to discourage Mexican revolutionaries. The outfit is commanded by CPT Paul W. Beck, who is joined by 1LT Benjamin Foulois, 2LT George E.M. Kelly, and 2LT John C. Walker, Jr.
APR5194518 U.S. divisions begin their attack on 370,000 encircled German soldiers in the Ruhr Pocket. With Nazi Germany on their last legs, much of the fighting force consists of old men with the Volksturm militia and boys of the Hitler Youth - so poorly supplied that many didn't even have weapons. While some units resist fanatically, most are captured.
APR51945A German firing squad executes the former commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp SS-Standartenführer Karl-Otto Koch for heinous crimes and brutal treatment of prisoners.
APR51951Corpsman Richard De Wert, serving with the 7th Marines in Korea, rushes through enemy fire to retrieve a wounded comrade. While wounded himself, De Wert refuses to stop to be treated and returns for another fallen Marine. Hit again, he braves incoming fire a third time, and on his fourth trip into the kill zone, the corpsman is mortally wounded. For his actions, De Wert is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR51964Retired GEN Douglas MacArthur passes away at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
APR61862As LTG Ulysses S. Grant's 42,000-man force marches for the rail center of Corinth, they are intercepted and driven back by Confederate GEN Albert Sidney Johnston's Army of Mississippi near Shiloh Church.
APR61906An expedition led by CMDR Robert Peary reaches the geographic North Pole. Peary leaves behind a note in a bottle stating, "I have this day hoisted the national ensign of the United States of America at this place [...] and have formally taken possession of the entire region, and adjacent, for and in the name of the President of the United States of America."
APR61917After Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare on Allied shipping and discovery of the "Zimmerman Telegram", proposing German alliance with Mexico if the U.S. enters World War I, Congress declares war on Germany.
APR61924Four modified Douglas torpedo bombers known as the Douglas World Cruisers take off from Seattle on the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by an airplane.
APR61952F-86 Sabre pilot CPT Iven C. Kincheloe, Jr. of the 25th Fighter Interceptor Squadron kills his fifth enemy MiG, becoming the United States' tenth ace of the Korean War.
APR61959The Northrop "Snark" missile undergoes its first full-range test, with the 67-foot-long cruise missile hitting its target 5,000 miles downrange. Capable of carrying a three-megaton warhead, the missile will be fielded the following year.
APR61965President Lyndon Johnson's National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy signs an order authorizing American combat troops to begin offensive operations in Vietnam. Prior to this order, soldiers and Marines were limited to defensive operations around air bases.
APR71945Carrier-based bombers and torpedo bombers from ADM Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58 engage and sink the Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed. Only 280 of the 2,778 crew are rescued, making the attack the largest loss of life at sea of a single ship during World War II.
APR71979The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine USS Ohio (SSBN-726), the largest submarine built by the U.S. Navy, is launched at the Groton, Connecticut shipyard.
APR91865The war lost, Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee concludes, "There is nothing left for me to do, but to go and see GEN Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths."
APR91918The famed 94th "Hat in the Ring" Aero Squadron moves up to the Croix de Metz Aerodrome in France, becoming the first American aviation outfit to enter combat.
APR91942Having run out of food, ammunition, and supplies after months of fighting the Japanese, MG Edward P. King surrenders over 11,000 American and 60,000 Filipino forces under his command on Luzon Island to the Japanese.
APR91942The beginning of the brutal Bataan Death March. The sick, starving, and wounded prisoners march in extreme heat and humidity some 80-90 miles to a Japanese prison camp in the backcountry of Luzon.
APR91959NASA introduces the "Mercury Seven," the men chosen to become United States' first astronauts after an intensive selection process. Out of the 500 applicants, NASA chose Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, and Alan Shepard from the Navy; Gordo Cooper, Gus Grissom, and Deke Slayton from the Air Force; and John Glenn from the Marine Corps.
APR92003On televisions across the world, viewers watch the iconic footage of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square being pulled down by a Marine armored recovery vehicle. Baghdad is finally captured by the U.S. led coalition.
APR92003British forces secured Basra - Iraq's second-largest city.
APR101778The sloop-of-war USS Ranger sets sail from the port of Brest, France for action along the British and Irish coasts.
APR101865Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee issues General Order No. 9 - his farewell address to his troops.
APR101941When Germany invades Denmark, Greenland - a Danish colony - asks for U.S. military protection. Over the course of World War II, the United States will operate numerous weathers, navigation, airfields, and ports on the island.
APR101963The submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) sinks while performing deep-diving tests in the northern Atlantic, taking 129 sailors and shipyard personnel with her. Thresher is the first nuclear sub lost at sea and the event marks the largest loss of life in submarine history.
APR101972B-52 bombers attack North Vietnamese SAM-2 sites near Vinh, the first deep-strike bombing mission since 1967.
APR101994Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons attack a Bosnian Serb command post after an attack on UN personnel. The strike is the first bombing operation in NATO history.
APR1119181st Aero Squadron pilots, equipped with the French Spad biplanes, perform the first American reconnaissance flight over enemy lines during World War I.
APR111945At 1515 local time a detachment of soldiers from the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion reaches the front gates of Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. The emaciated prisoners give their American liberators a hero's welcome.
APR111951President Harry Truman removes GEN Douglas MacArthur from his position as Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces in South Korea for the esteemed general's repeated disrespect to the president. MacArthur's replacement is GEN Matthew B. Ridgway, who had been serving under MacArthur as Commanding Officer of the Eighth Army.
APR111966The 1st Infantry Division clashes with the Viet Cong east of Saigon and rescue helicopters are dispatched to evacuate the casualties. A1C Class William H. Pitsenbarger descends into the jungle to help hoist the wounded into the helicopter. When one of the choppers is hit by enemy ground fire and must depart, the Pararescueman waves off his ride and remains with the soldiers. Pitsenbarger helps treat the wounded and distributes ammunition from the dead, and when not dragging injured soldiers from withering fire that killed or wounded 80 percent of the unit, he returned fire. Pitsenbarger was killed during the assault and when he is found the next day, he is holding a rifle in one hand and a medical kit in the other.
APR111970At 1313 NASA Time, a Saturn V rocket blasts CPT Jim Lovell (US Navy), Jack Swigert (former U.S. Air Force CPT), and Fred Haise, Jr. (former Marine Corps/Air Force CPT) into space from the Kennedy Space Center.
APR121861Confederate BG Pierre G.T. Beauregard’s artillery forces — strategically positioned around Charleston Harbor, SC — open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter.
APR121862Andrews’ Raiders — an ad hoc Union Army commando force (22 Ohio Infantrymen led by civilian spy James J. Andrews) — commandeer a Confederate train at Big Shanty, Georgia during an operation aimed at disrupting the rail-line between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
APR121911LT Theodore Ellyson graduates the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Camp near San Diego, becoming Naval Aviator No. 1.
APR121945Former World War I artillery officer Harry S. Truman becomes president when Franklin D. Roosevelt passes away from a cerebral hemorrhage in his Georgia home.
APR121961Yuri Gargarin tells the control room "Let's go!" and his Vostok spacecraft launches the first human into space.
APR121975Marines evacuate nearly 300 Americans and foreign nationals from Cambodia during Operation EAGLE PULL.
APR121981Former Naval aviators John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen blast off on the first space shuttle mission. Columbia lands safely two days later at Edwards Air Force base after orbiting the earth 37 times.
APR121993U.S. aircraft from air bases across Europe and the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt begin enforcing NATO's no-fly zone over Bosnia during Operation DENY FLIGHT.
APR131941When Japan signs a five-year neutrality deal with the Soviet Union, President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the Navy to scale back operations in the Atlantic, considering the possibility that resources would now be needed more in the Pacific.
APR131943Germany announces the discovery of a mass grave in Russia's Katyn Forest. Josef Stalin ordered Soviet security forces to execute over 20,000 Polish officers, soldiers, and officials. Russia would deny involvement in the massacre until 2010.
APR131945As Nazi SS troops race to evacuate prisoners of war from advancing American forces, over 1,000 Polish prisoners of war are herded into a barn at Gardelegen, Germany and the building is set on fire. Those that attempted to escape the blaze are shot. The 102nd Infantry Division reaches Gardelegen the next day before the Nazis can destroy evidence of the massacre.
APR131953CIA Director Allen Dulles authorizes Project MK Ultra, the agency's secret experimental mind control program. The CIA sought to replicate and protect against communist mind control techniques used to interrogate U.S. troops during the Korean War.
APR131960A Thor-Ablestar rocket launches the satellite Transit 1B into orbit and America's first global positioning system (GPS) is born. The Navy will use Transit satellites to guide its ballistic missile submarine fleet.
APR131970"Houston, we've had a problem": Apollo 13 command module's oxygen tank explodes, knocking out the crew's supply of power, water, and the means to remove toxic gases. The moon landing is cancelled, and NASA works furiously to engineer a means to return the crew to earth.
APR141918Two Nieuport 28 fighters flown by LTs Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell lift off from the Gengoult Aerodrome near Toul, France on an alert sortie. Immediately after takeoff, the pilots shoot down two German warplanes over the airfield, and then land. Winslow and Campbell have scored the first-ever victories for the American Air Service.
APR151861President Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to quell the rebellion by the Confederates.
APR151865President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater.
APR151912U.S. Navy scout cruisers USS Chester (CL-1) and USS Salem (CL-3) set out from Massachusetts to assist survivors of RMS Titanic.
APR151947Former 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion platoon leader Jack R. "Jackie" Robinson becomes the first player to break Major League Baseball's "color barrier."
APR151961B-26B Invader bombers, painted by the CIA to resemble Cuban Air Force planes, attack Cuban airfields in preparation for the upcoming Bay of Pigs Invasion. Under cover of darkness, a diversionary landing of 164 Cuban exiles, supported by U.S. Navy destroyers, departs for Baracoa, Cuba but turns around due to militia activity on the coast.
APR151961USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) - America's first nuclear-powered frigate - launches at Quincy, Mass.
APR151962Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 deploys to the Mekong Delta, becoming the first operational Marine Corps unit to serve in Vietnam.
APR161898Following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, the Secretary of the Navy orders Marine Corps commandant MG Charles Heywood to organize a battalion for duty in Cuba.
APR161916The French Air Service establishes the Escadrille Américaine — a group of volunteer American pilots flying for the French military.
APR161945Before dawn, thousands of Soviet guns open fire on the entrenched German soldiers defending Seelow Heights while nearly one million Red Army soldiers begin their assault. The Battle for Berlin has begun.
APR161972Former Naval aviators Kenn Mattingly, John Young, and Air Force fighter pilot Charles Duke lift off from Kennedy Space Center on the Apollo 16 mission.
APR161986Several hours before dawn, U.S. Air Force and Navy warplanes roar into Libyan airspace and begin a series of airstrikes against military and terrorist targets. Codenamed EL DORADO CANYON, the attacks are in retaliation for Libyan-leader COL Muammar Qaddafi’s direct involvement in terrorist attacks against Americans worldwide.
APR171847U.S. Army forces under the command of GEN Winfield Scott outmaneuver, drive from a superior position, inflict heavy losses, and decisively defeat a numerically superior Mexican Army under GEN Antonio López de Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo.
APR171915A month after the submarine USS F-4 (SS-23) goes down with all hands off the Hawaiian coast, diver Chief Gunner's Mate William F. Loughman becomes tangled in the wreckage 306 feet below the surface during recovery operations. Fellow diver Frank W. Crilley dives down to Louhgman and frees his trapped teammate.
APR171942Deep in the western Pacific Ocean, a task force consisting of two aircraft carriers, three cruisers, and eight destroyers takes on their last load of fuel before carrying out their secret mission. On the deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) sit 16 of LTC. James H. Doolittle's specially modified B-25 Mitchell bombers. RADM William F. Halsey, Jr.'s flagship USS Enterprise (CV-6) provides protection for Hornet as her warplanes will be stored below decks until the B-25s take off for their famous raid on Tokyo. The ships, traveling under radio silence, are now just 1,000 miles away from their target.
APR171961More than 1,500 CIA-trained and financed Cuban freedom fighters hit the beach along the Cuban coastline including the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), while nearly 180 "Free Cuba" paratroopers begin landing north of the beachhead.
APR171970A weary Apollo 13 crew splashes down safely in the South Pacific Ocean, just three miles away from their recovery ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) - nothing short of a miracle for the crew. NASA had to work furiously to devise new procedures on-the-fly to return the astronauts safely after an oxygen module explodes two days into the mission.
APR181775Paul Revere and William Dawes begin their famous "midnight ride" from Boston to Lexington, where they link-up with Samuel Prescott, who rides on to Concord. All three are sounding the alarm – warning town leaders and alerting the militia – that nearly 1,000 British infantrymen, grenadiers, and Royal Marines are advancing from Boston.
APR181942At 0738. a Japanese patrol vessel spots the task force bearing LTC James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle and his raiders 650 miles east of Japan. The ship is sunk, but not before her crew can report the position of the American aircraft carriers. Their cover blown, and the mission must begin ten hours earlier than planned. The crews will not have enough fuel to return to the carrier after the first raid against the Japanese mainland of World War II, so they have been instructed to strike Tokyo and other targets on Honshu, then fly to China and pray they’ll find suitable landing sites or bail out.
APR181943Naval intelligence intercepts communications that give them the travel itinerary of ADM Isoroku Yamamoto - the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, who is touring bases in the South Pacific to boost morale after the United States handily defeats Japan at Guadalcanal.
APR181945As the Red Army smashes through Berlin's defenses, 300,000 soldiers in the Ruhr Pocket surrender, bringing the total of German prisoners of war to 2 million.
APR181945The U.S. Ninth Army captures Magdeburg.
APR1819451,000 British bombers turn the island naval fortress of Heligoland into a cratered moonscape.
APR181945Ernie Pyle is killed by a Japanese machine gun after landing with the 77th Infantry Division on Ie Shima, a small island northwest of Okinawa. President Harry Truman states, "No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told." Pyle is posthumously awarded the Purple Heart - rarely awarded to civilians.
APR181983A Hezbollah suicide bomber crashes a truck carrying 2,000 lbs of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, setting off a blast that kills 63 people. Among the fallen are 17 Americans, including the CIA's station chief Kenneth Haas, his deputy, the agency's regional director, and four service members.
APR191775An expedition of 700 British regulars under the command of LTC Frances Smith departs Boston to seize and destroy military stores of the Massachusetts Militia in Concord. At dawn, 70 militia members led by CPT John Parker meet the British at Lexington, and the two sides briefly skirmish. The Americans withdraw and regroup, attacking the redcoats again at North Bridge with a much larger force, forcing the British to turn back towards Boston.
APR191861Massachusetts volunteers headed for Washington, D.C. are attacked by a secessionist mob in Baltimore. Four soldiers and eight rioters die in the opening shots of the American Civil War.
APR191861President Abraham Lincoln orders a Naval blockade of Confederate ports in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
APR191917The Army-chartered transport ship SS Mongolia becomes the first vessel to challenge Germany's naval blockade of England. Fitted with three 6-in. guns manned by Naval crews, Mongolia drives off and damages - possibly sinking - a German U-boat in the United States' first Naval engagement since entering World War I.
APR191945Following the most massive artillery, Naval gunfire and air bombardment of the Pacific War, U.S. soldiers and Marines of LTG Simon Bolivar Bucker Jr.'s combined Tenth Army launch a coordinated ground assault against the dug-in Japanese defenders of the infamous Shuri Line on Okinawa.
APR191960Grumman's A-6 "Intruder" makes its first flight. The Navy and Marine Corps relied heavily on the versatile all weather/night attack aircraft until the Intruder's retirement 1997. The Marines operated the EA-6B "Prowler" electronic warfare variant until 2019.
APR191961Shortly after midnight, three pairs of B-26 Marauder bombers take off from a covert base in Nicaragua known as "Happy Valley" to provide air support to anti-Communist ground forces, now in their third day of fighting in Bahia de Cochinos - the Bay of Pigs. The CIA bombers are painted in Cuban Air Force colors and crewed by volunteer Alabama Air National Guard members.
APR191967MAJ Leo K. Thorsness, leading a flight of Air Force F-105 "Thunderchief" aircraft on a "Wild Weasel" mission in a heavily defended area around Hanoi, North Vietnam, destroys two surface-to-air missile sites. When one of his planes is hit and the crew must eject, Thorsness circles the area to notify search and rescue crews of the downed airmen's location. Spotting an enemy MiG-17 in the area, he engages and kills the enemy fighter, and draws its wingmen off as he heads for fuel. After refueling, helicopter crews attempting to rescue Thorsness' teammates reported more enemy fighters in the area. He damages one MiG and drives the rest away from the area. For his actions, Thorsness is awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR191989The number two 16-inch turret on USS Iowa (BB-61) explodes during a live-fire exercise near Puerto Rico, killing 47 sailors.
APR201861COL Robert E. Lee, considered for a top command by GEN Winfield Scott, and having just rejected an offer of command in the Confederate Army, reluctantly resigns his commission in the U.S. Army following the secession of his home state of Virginia.
APR201861Norfolk Navy Yard is abandoned and burned by Union forces to prevent the facility from falling into enemy hands after Virginia’s secession.
APR201914Following the arrest of U.S. sailors in Veracruz and the discovery of an illegal arms shipment from Germany to GEN Victoriano Huerta’s regime, President Woodrow Wilson obtains Congress’ approval to occupy the Mexican port.
APR201914During the first-ever combat deployment of a Naval aviation unit: LT John H. Towers, 1LT Bernard L. Smith (USMC), and ENS Godfrey de Chevalier, 12 enlisted support personnel, and three planes board the cruiser USS Birmingham and sail for Tampico.
APR201918In the skies over France, German pilot Manfred von Richtofen – the infamous “Red Baron” – guns down two Sopwith Camels of the Royal Air Force's No. 3 Squadron within three minutes, scoring what will be his final two kills.
APR201945The 7th Army captures Nuremberg. The Stars and Stripes are raised over Adolf Hitler Platz, the site of Nazi party rallies, on his 56th birthday.
APR201947U.S. Navy CPT L.O. Fox accepts the surrender of LT Ei Yamaguchi and 26 Japanese soldiers and sailors on the island of Peleliu. After the Japanese holdouts attack the island’s Marine Corps detachment in March, a Japanese admiral had to be flown in to convince Yamaguchi that the war had ended nearly two years ago.
APR202007With U.S. military airlift assets stretched to the maximum, a Russian An-124 "Condor" lands at Moffett Air Field to transport the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing and their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to Afghanistan.
APR211777British Army forces commanded by GEN William Tryon begin burning the village of Danbury. Much of the town is destroyed before Continental forces can arrive.
APR211836Texas Army forces led by GEN Sam Houston surprise and decisively defeat GEN Antonio López de Santa Anna’s Mexican army in the Battle of San Jacinto. In 18 minutes, some 650 Mexicans lay dead while less than a dozen Texans are killed. The Mexican army surrenders, and Texas secures its independence. Santa Anna is captured – hiding and dressed as a common soldier – the following day.
APR211898Spain severs diplomatic relations with the United States and President William McKinley orders the Naval blockade of Cuba, putting the United States on a war footing with Spain.
APR211940U.S. Army CPT Robert M. Losey becomes the first American casualty of World War II when he is killed by German bombing raid on a rail yard in Norway. Losey was attempting to evacuate U.S. personnel in the wake of the German invasion.
APR211951Two Marine Corps aviators, including World War II ace CPT Phillip DeLong from the USS Bataan (CVL-29), splash three Yak fighters and damage another in the first dogfight with North Korean pilots.
APR221856Despite Secretary of War Jefferson Davis's repeated attempts to halt construction on the rail bridge at Rock Island, the first railroad bridge is completed and open to traffic. The wooden bridge featured a draw span in the middle of the Mississippi River across a large stretch of rapids known as the Rock Island Rapids and crossed from Rock Island to Davenport, Iowa.
APR221863Union cavalry troopers, led by COL Benjamin Grierson, begin a two-week raid through Mississippi. Grierson’s raiders cut the state's telegraph lines, destroy two train loads of Confederate ammunition, sabotage 50 miles of railroad, kill 100 and capture 500 Confederates.
APR221915German artillery near Gravenstafel, Belgium fires over 150 tons of chlorine gas on French forces, including French Colonial Moroccan and Algerian troops, in the first large-scale successful use of chemical weapons. Within moments, the toxic gas cloud inflicts about 6,000 casualties - including many of the German artillery troops.
APR221942The Coordinator of Information (predecessor to the CIA) activates Detachment 101 - a special operations unit in Burma. The group collected intelligence, destroyed bridges, derailed trains, captured, or destroyed enemy vehicles, located targets for the 10th Air Force, rescued downed Allied airmen, and most importantly, recruited and trained over 10,000 native troops for a highly effective guerrilla campaign against Japanese Forces. Detachment 101 and its OSS teams became the prototype for modern-day Special Forces (Army Green Berets).
APR221944American soldiers and Marines, supported by over 200 ships, land in New Guinea for Operations RECKLESS and PERSECUTION.
APR221945As Russian air force and artillery and bombard targets in central Berlin - with some explosions rocking the underground Führerbunker command post - Adolf Hitler confides to his aides that the war is lost and declares suicide is his only option.
APR221951Chinese and North Korean forces, totaling around 700,000 soldiers, launch their Spring Offensive.
APR222004Pat Tillman, who left a multi-million-dollar career in professional football to join the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is killed while on patrol in eastern Afghanistan.
APR222010The U.S. Air Force's Boeing X-37B unmanned spacecraft, sitting on top of an Atlas V rocket, lifts off from Cape Canaveral just before midnight on its maiden flight.
APR231778CPT John Paul Jones, commanding the Continental sloop-of-war Ranger, leads a daring ship-to-shore raid on the British fortress at Whitehaven, England. The raid is the first on British soil by an American force.
APR231918Near Saint-Gobain, France 1LT Paul Baer of the 103rd Aero Squadron shoots down his fifth enemy aircraft, becoming the U.S. Army Air Service's first ace.
APR231945A U.S. Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer of Patrol Bombing Squadron 109 (VPB-109) launches two Bat missiles against Japanese shipping at Balikpapan, Borneo.
APR231951When his company's outpost is overrun by enemy forces in a fierce nighttime attack, TSGT Harold E. Wilson ignores wounds in his head, shoulder, arm, and leg, resupplying his fellow Marines and coordinating his unit's defense with his company commander. Wounded again by a mortar blast, the platoon sergeant refuses medical assistance for himself and continues to support his men and treat the wounded. Despite being covered with serious wounds he stays in the fight until the last enemy assault has been defeated. He then walks a mile to the rear, but only after ensuring that all his Marines are accounted for. For his actions, Wilson is awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR241781A 2,500-man force of British and Hessian troops led by GEN William Phillips lands at City Point. They are joined by the "American Legion," a militia outfit consisting of Loyalist deserters from the Continental Army and commanded by the famous turncoat BG Benedict Arnold.
APR241862ADM David Farragut's squadron of 43 Union vessels fight past Confederate batteries at Forts Jackson and St. Philip in the Mississippi River at New Orleans and destroy most of the Confederate fleet upriver
APR241942With the Burma Road now cut off by the Japanese, the Allies have no choice but to airlift supplies and ammunition from India to China. The first of what will soon be many B-29 bombers fly "over the hump" - the treacherous Himalayan Mountains.
APR241951When a wave of Chinese soldiers charged his machine gun position, Army CPL Hiroshi Miyamura told his crew to cover him as he fixed his bayonet and advanced into the enemy force, killing ten in hand to hand combat and scattering the attackers. Upon returning to his position, Miyamura ordered his men to withdraw as he manned the machine gun and covered their retreat. He killed some 50 communist fighters before running out of ammunition and becoming severely wounded. Miyamura's position was overrun, and he would spend the next 28 months as a prisoner of war. Miyamura would become the first Medal of Honor recipient whose citation was classified "Top Secret," out of fears for his safety.
APR241980Following a string of glitches from missed deadlines to malfunctioning helicopters, a U.S. operation aimed at freeing American hostages in Iran is aborted at a remote staging area – code-named DESERT ONE – some 200 miles from Tehran. As the rescue force begins to withdraw, one of the helicopters operating in night black-out conditions accidentally hovers into a C-130 transport aircraft. A terrific explosion follows, killing five U.S. airmen and three Marines.
APR241990An Air Force C-130H "Hercules", flying 60 miles off the coast of Peru gathering intelligence on drug cartels is intercepted by two Peruvian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 fighters. Despite being unarmed and flying above international waters, the planes open fire on the C-130, injuring six of the 14 crewmembers and killing MSG Joseph C. Beard, Jr.
APR251846When MG Zachary Taylor receives reports that Mexican forces - seeking to reclaim Texas - have crossed the Rio Grande, he dispatches two companies of dragoons (mounted infantry) to investigate. The American soldiers are ambushed by some 1,600 Mexican soldiers and those not killed are taken prisoner.
APR251914Navy LT Patrick N.L. Bellinger flies the first Naval combat mission when his AB-3 flying boat conducts reconnaissance of Veracruz and searches the Mexican harbor for mines. Bellinger also becomes the first American aviator to be fired upon by the enemy.
APR251915Australian and New Zealand soldiers land on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula and face fierce resistance from LTC Mustafa Kamal's Turks. Kamal orders his defenders, horribly outnumbered and out of ammunition: "Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place."
APR251944When an Army Air Forces plane carrying wounded British soldiers goes down 100 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma, LT Carter Harmon conducts the first known military helicopter rescue. His YR-4B helicopter can carry only one passenger, so Harmon must fly four trips to everyone back to safety.
APR251945A U.S. Army reconnaissance patrol crosses the Elbe River and contacts a forward element of the Russian Guards. The German Wehrmacht is effectively split in two. Meanwhile, the Nazi occupation army in Italy surrenders and the last German troops in Finland evacuate.
APR251951Two battalions of Australian and New Zealand forces (along with U.S. and Canadian troops) repulse an assault by an entire Chinese division in the Battle of Kapyong. UN casualties are in the dozens, while over a thousand Chinese lay dead.
APR251960The nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton (SSRN 586) arrives at the St. Peter and Paul docks in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first vessel to cross the globe submerged. Triton traveled 26,723 nautical miles in only 60 days.
APR251967One of the two pilots to fly the U.S. military's first-ever combat mission passes away at Andrews Air Force Base. MG Benjamin D. Foulois began his service as an infantry officer, serving in both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American wars.
APR26177716-year-old Sybil Ludington – "the female Paul Revere" – begins her 40-mile, all-night ride across an isolated circuit of New York–Connecticut backcountry, warning villagers of a British attack on nearby Danbury.
APR261865After three days of negotiations with Union MG William Sherman, GEN Joseph Johnson surrenders the Army of Tennessee, along with the remaining Confederates in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida - nearly 90,000 troops in the largest surrender of the war.
APR261865Union cavalry troopers track down John Wilkes Booth at a tobacco barn in Virginia. He is shot and killed.
APR261945Eighth Air Force fighter pilots raid over 40 Luftwaffe installations, destroying an astounding 747 enemy aircraft in just one day.
APR261948Test pilot George Welch puts his North American YP-86 Saber jet into a dive and breaks the sound barrier - marking the first supersonic flight of a fighter aircraft.
APR261952While performing night carrier operations off the coast of Newfoundland, the minesweeper USS Hobson (DD-464) collides with the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-18). The minesweeper breaks in half and within five minutes, 176 sailors perish in one of the Navy's largest non-combat losses of life at sea.
APR261966While escorting a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs on a bombing mission near Hanoi, an F-4C Phantom flown by MAJ Paul J. Gilmore and 1LT William T. Smith shoots down an enemy MiG-21 with Sidewinder missiles.
APR261971A Cessna O-2 Skymaster forward air controller plane is shot down by an enemy surface-to-air missile over the heavily defended Ban Kari Pass, marking the first U.S. aircraft lost over Laos.
APR271805Following an extremely difficult march across a 500-700-mile stretch of North African desert, a force of eight U.S. Marines, two Navy midshipmen, and band of Arab and Greek mercenaries commanded by U.S. Army officer William Eaton have reached the fortress at Derna during the First Barbary War.
APR271813BG Zebulon Pike's 1,800-man American infantry force lands west of the Canadian town of York. Supported by a 14-ship naval flotilla, the Americans inflict heavy losses on the outnumbered British regulars, Canadian militia, and Ojibwe warriors. The fort's magazine explodes during the battle, killing 38 Americans (including Pike) and wounding over 200.
APR271865The overcrowded Mississippi River steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 Union soldiers just released from Confederate prison, explodes, and sinks just north of Memphis. At least 1,500 soldiers perish in the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history.
APR271953As armistice negotiations begin, GEN Mark Clark - the commander of UN forces in Korea - informs Communist pilots through shortwave radio broadcasts in Russian, Chinese, and Korean that defecting MiG-15 pilots would receive political asylum and $50,000. The Russian MiG-15 was believed to be superior to any Allied fighter at the time and had inflicted heavy casualties on Allied airmen.
APR271972After an astounding 871 unsuccessful strike missions against North Vietnam's Thanh Hoa Bridge, F-4 Phantoms armed with Paveway I laser-guided bombs finally knock out the stubborn bridge, which had become a symbol of communist resistance against the United States.
APR281907A detachment of Marines from the gunboat USS Paducah (PG-18) land in Honduras to protect American nationals during a conflict with Nicaragua.
APR281944As allied ships rehearse for the upcoming Normandy Invasion on the English coast, they come under fire by nine torpedo-armed German E-Boats in Lyme Bay. Two tank landing ships are sunk, and one is damaged, killing 749 soldiers and sailors. Several ships went ahead with the landing, and unfortunately the British ships bombarding the beach continued to fire, not knowing the Americans were already hitting the beach, and some 300 additional soldiers are killed from friendly fire.
APR281965A battalion of U.S. Marines land at Haina in the Dominican Republic to protect American nationals following the outbreak of civil war.
APR281967Boxing legend Muhammad Ali refuses to take the oath of enlistment after being drafted for service in the Armed Forces and is immediately stripped of his championship. It is three years before he is able to box again.
APR281970President Richard Nixon authorizes U.S. military incursions into Cambodia. While the country was officially neutral, Communist forces used Cambodia as a haven and staging area for cross-border operations into South Vietnam.
APR301789The U.S. Navy Department – parent department of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps – is established.
APR301917MAJ William "Billy" Mitchell, sitting in the observer seat on a French aircraft, becomes the first U.S. military officer to fly over German lines.
APR301943The British submarine HMS Seraph drops a cadaver overboard off the coast of Spain, disguised as a British Royal Marine officer with documents suggesting an upcoming Allied invasion of Greece and Sardinia. German intelligence discovers the files and shift reinforcements.
APR301945With the Red Army almost at their doorstep, Germany orders the 9,000 Allied prisoners of war (including 7,000 Americans) at Germany's Stalag Luft I to evacuate. The men refuse. The senior officer negotiates with the German commander, who chooses to order his guards to evacuate, leaving the prisoners behind.
APR301945Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his underground Berlin bunker.
APR301962The CIA's A-12 reconnaissance aircraft - the predecessor of the SR-71 Blackbird, a two-seat variant of the A-12 - makes its first official flight at the highly classified Groom Lake.
APR301970President Richard M. Nixon announces that U.S. troops would conduct operations in North Vietnamese-controlled areas of Cambodia.
MAY11898U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey's Asiatic Squadron steams single file into Manila Bay and destroys the out-armored and out-gunned Spanish fleet in the Philippines.
MAY11943When his B-17 bomber is hit by German flak and SGT Maynard H. "Snuffy" Smith loses power in his ball turret gun, he climbs out to assist the other airmen. With a fire now burning in the fuselage, three of the crew had already bailed out. Smith treats two severely wounded comrades and begins fighting the fire that was melting holes in the aircraft. For the next 90 minutes, Smith alternates between caring for the wounded, extinguishing the fire, and manning the .50 caliber guns against attacking German fighters. The plane makes it safely back to England but breaks in half upon landing from the fire. Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor.
MAY11945Eighth Air Force B-17s drop 700 tons of food over German-occupied Holland, whose residents are suffering from famine. The Germans told the Allies that their bombers would not be targeted so long as they remained within approved air corridors. Operation CHOW HOUND has begun.
MAY11951AD "Skyraiders" conduct the only aerial torpedo attack of the Korean War, against the Hwacheon Dam.
MAY11960CIA pilot - and U.S. Air Force CPT - Francis Gary Powers takes off from a military airbase in Pakistan on a secret reconnaissance overflight mission of the Soviet Union. His U-2 spy plane, flying 70,000 feet above Russia, is hit by a surface-to-air missile. Powers ejects safely and is held in a Soviet prison until his famous exchange on a Berlin bridge nearly two years later.
MAY12003George W. Bush becomes the first president to make an arrested landing when the S-3 Viking dubbed "Navy One" touches down on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) following its 10-month combat deployment. Bush delivers a speech on the deck of the aircraft carrier announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
MAY21863GEN Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is shot by a Confederate sentry while performing a leaders-reconnaissance mission.
MAY21945Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne and the 8th Infantry Division liberate the Wöbbelin concentration camp in northern Germany.
MAY21945GEN Heinrich von Vietinghoff surrenders all Wehrmacht forces in Italy and the Red Army flies the Soviet flag over the Reichstag building. Berlin has fallen.
MAY21946When prisoners at Alcatraz riot - breaking into the prison armory and taking hostages - Marines from Treasure Island Naval Base assist in suppressing the riot.
MAY21964A North Vietnamese frogman plants an explosive charge on USNS Card as the ship sits at a dock in Saigon. The blast kills five civilian crew members and Card sinks.
MAY21999LTC David Goldfein, commander of the U.S. Air Force's 555th Fighter Squadron, becomes the second U.S. pilot shot down during Operation ALLIED FORCE. His F-16 fighter was shot down near Belgrade by a Serbian surface-to-air missile. Goldfein ejects safely and is soon recovered by a combat search and rescue team.
MAY22011After perhaps the largest manhunt in history, U.S. intelligence finally tracked down Osama bin Laden - the founder of Al Qaeda. An elite team of "DEVGRU" Navy SEALs boards specially modified Black Hawk helicopters in Afghanistan, flying undetected through Pakistan to bin Laden's secret compound in Abbottabad.
MAY31898Marines from the cruisers USS Baltimore (C-3) and USS Raleigh (C-8) raise the Stars and Stripes for the first time in the Philippines over Cavite, the historical capital.
MAY3192326 hours and 50 minutes after taking off in New York, Army Air Corps 1LTs Oakley Kelly and John Macready touch down at Rockwell Field, San Diego, becoming the first aviators to fly non-stop across the United States. The specially modified Fokker T-2 passenger plane averaged a blistering 92 mph.
MAY31942Off the Florida coast, two German U-boats each sink a cargo ship, killing a total of 23 sailors.
MAY31943LTG Frank M. Andrews, the commander of all U.S. Forces in the European Theater, is killed when the B-24 Liberator bomber, carrying the former cavalry trooper and pilot on an inspection tour, crashes.
MAY31946Prosecution of 28 Japanese military and political leaders begin at the War Ministry Office in Tokyo.
MAY31951The Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees begin closed-session hearings into the dismissal of GEN Douglas MacArthur.
MAY31952Air Force LTC Joseph O. Fletcher, piloting a C-47 with skis for landing gear - along with fellow LTC William P. Benedict and scientist Dr. Albert P. Crary - become the first Americans to land at the geographic North Pole. That day, Crary becomes the first person to have stood on both the North and South Poles.
MAY31952MAJ Donald E. Adams and CPT Robert T. Latshaw, Jr. each splashed two enemy MiGs and become the USAF’s 13th and 14th aces of the Korean War.
MAY31965Lead elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade depart Okinawa for South Vietnam, becoming the first Army ground combat units deployed in the Vietnam War.
MAY31975USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. by President Gerald R. Ford.
MAY41864LTG Ulysses S. Grant moves the Army of the Potomac out of their winter encampments and 100,000 Union soldiers cross the Rapidan River in Virginia, kicking off the campaign that will set the stage for the defeat of GEN Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
MAY41916Germany announces it will abandon its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Rather than continuing to indiscriminately sink all vessels in the British Isles, German subs will only torpedo those found to carry war materials.
MAY41917A detachment of destroyers commanded by CMDR Joseph K. Taussig arrives at Queenstown, Ireland. The destroyers will assist convoy escorts against German U-Boats, which are sinking a staggering 600,000 tons of shipping per month.
MAY41945Germany's new president, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz sends envoys to GEN Sir Bernard Montgomery's headquarters - a carpeted tent in Lüneburg Heath, Germany - and sign the unconditional surrender of German air, land, and sea forces in the Netherlands, Denmark, and northwest Germany.
MAY41945The Japanese 32nd Army attempts - and fails - to make an amphibious assault behind American lines.
MAY41968As soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) brave intense sniper fire and charge uphill towards fortified enemy positions in Vietnam's infamous Vietnam's A Shau Valley, a soldier discovers an enemy claymore. Platoon Leader Douglas B. Fournet orders his men to take cover while he charges forward to disarm the mine. He unsheathes a knife and attempts to cut the wire used to detonate the device, but it explodes. Fournet shields his teammates from the blast with his body and he is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
MAY41970Ohio National Guard units open fire on protestors at Kent State University. In 13 seconds, four students lay dead and nine more were wounded.
MAY41999An Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcon shoots down a Serbian Air Force MiG-29 marking the U.S. military's fifth and final air-to-air kill of the NATO campaign
MAY41999An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashes in Albania, killing the pilot and gunner - the first NATO fatalities of Operation ALLIED FORCE.
MAY51862Disappointed in the lack of progress of MG George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, President Abraham Lincoln departs for Hampton Roads, Virginia. on the Treasury Department revenue cutter Miami to personally oversee operations.
MAY51864The bloody albeit inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness (Virginia) opens between Union Army forces under the command of LTG Ulysses S. Grant and MG George G. Meade, and Confederate forces under GEN Robert E. Lee.
MAY51916Two companies of Marines from the transport USS Prairie (AD-5) land at Santo Domingo, beginning the United States' eight-year occupation of the Dominican Republic.
MAY51917Eugene J. Bullard becomes the first black combat aviator, earning his wings with the French Air Service.
MAY51945A Japanese balloon bomb explodes in Bly, Oregon, killing a pastor, his wife, and five Sunday schoolchildren on the way to a picnic.
MAY51961At 0934, U.S. Navy CMDR Alan B. Shepard Jr.'s Mercury-Redstone rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral. Shepard becomes the first American in space as his "Freedom 7" capsule carries him 116 miles above the Earth's surface.
MAY61942LTG Jonathan Wainwright unconditionally surrenders all US forces in the Philippines to the Japanese.
MAY71873Marines from the USS Pensacola and USS Tuscarora land at the Bay of Columbia to protect American citizens and interests as local groups fight for control of the Panamanian government.
MAY71915The submarine U-20 spots the massive ocean liner RMS Lusitania, steaming from New York and hoping to sneak through Germany’s blockade of the British Isles. The U-boat fires a single torpedo at the ship and Lusitania sinks in just 18 minutes, taking 1,198 people – including 128 Americans – with her to the bottom.
MAY71942The Battle of the Coral Sea begins in earnest between a primarily U.S. Naval force and the Japanese Navy.
MAY71942Chief Water Tender Oscar V. Peterson leads a repair party on the oiler USS Neosho during the Battle of the Coral Sea. With no regard for his own safety, Peterson sacrifices himself to contain damage to save the ship. He will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.
MAY71945At 0241 at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Rheims, France, German general Alfred Jodl signs the unconditional surrender of all German forces, ending World War II in Europe.
MAY71945When his fellow Marines become pinned down in a valley by a Japanese machine gun on Okinawa, PFC Albert E. Schwab single-handedly charges and eliminates two machine gun positions with his flame thrower before he is killed by enemy fire. PFC Schwab was awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.
MAY71954Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap decisively defeats the French military in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. The French withdraw from Vietnam after Dien Bien Phu, leaving the problem to the United States – setting the stage for the Vietnam War.
MAY71962The submarine USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) launches the only nuclear-tipped ballistic missile ever fired by the United States. The Polaris missile blasts out of the submerged sub and flies 1,000 nautical miles before detonating in the air near Johnson Island in the South Pacific.
AUG231944In Brittany, SSG Alvin P. Carrey spots an enemy machinegun nest 200 yards up a hill that is pinning down his soldiers. He grabs as many grenades as he can carry and has his soldiers cover him, then crawls up the hill. Carrey shoots a German soldier on the way up, then begins hurling grenades at the enemy position - drawing the machine gunners' fire. Although mortally wounded, he still manages to hurl a grenade right on target, killing the crew and knocking their guns out. Carrey is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
AUG231950Over 70,000 Army Reservists are ordered to report for duty during the Korean War.
AUG231964A Lockheed YC-130 prototype takes off for its first flight - a 61-minute trip from the Lockheed plant in Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base. Designed to haul a tank and take off/land on short, primitive fields, the plane lifts off in just 800 feet. Once it becomes operational, the versatile C-130 Hercules can even make takeoffs and landings on an aircraft carrier without using the catapult or wires.
AUG231990As American forces continue deployment to the Persian Gulf for Operation DESERT SHIELD, 46,000 Reservists are called up.
AUG231996Osama bin Laden issues his first fatwa, declaring war on the United States for, among other reasons, maintaining a military presence in Saudi Arabia. The founder of the terrorist group Al Qaeda's message isn't taken seriously until bombs kill over 200 people at American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya two years later.
AUG241814British soldiers and Royal Marines clash with an American force of militia and a detachment of Marines and sailors in the Battle of Bladensburg. The professional British troops easily scatter the militia but run into a wall when they square off against the Marines. In their first volley, the leathernecks destroy an entire company of the King's men then pursue their foe into a ravine.
AUG241912The Navy's first electrically powered ship, USS Jupiter (AC-3) is launched. Ten years later, a flight deck is added to the 542-ft. vessel, and the renamed USS Langley becomes America's first aircraft carrier.
AUG241942VADM Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and a Japanese carrier division converge in the Solomon Islands as Japanese troops attempt to reinforce Guadalcanal. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons is fought entirely by aircraft; the Japanese inflict serious damage on USS Enterprise (CV-6), while the Americans sink several vessels, including the light carrierRyujo.
AUG241942Over Guadalcanal, Japanese warplanes clash with Army and Marine aircraft of the "Cactus Air Force," with CPT Marion E. Carl in his F4F Wildcat scoring four of the day's ten Allied victories, becoming the Marine Corps' first ace.
AUG241945CPO Bob Feller returns to Cleveland and is honored by a parade before pitching in his first major league game since becoming the first professional athlete to enlist in the Armed Forces during World War II. Despite losing nearly four years to his military service - Feller served aboard the battleship USS Alabama - the future Hall of Famer strikes out 12 batters and only allows four hits in the Indians 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.
AUG241969In Quang Tri Province, a team of 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines are ambushed by machinegun and automatic weapon fire in the early morning hours. LCPL Richard A. Anderson is hit in both legs and knocked to the ground, where he takes up a prone position and pours suppressive fire into the enemy. He keeps up the attack, despite being wounded again. As a medic treats his wounds, Anderson spots an enemy grenade landing in their position. He rolls on top of the grenade and absorbs the deadly blast with his body, saving several nearby Marines. Anderson is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
AUG251921The United States and Germany finally sign a peace treaty. Meanwhile, coalmine workers attempting to unionize in West Virginia begin fighting with law enforcement and strike breakers in what becomes the largest insurrection since the Civil War. Over one million rounds are fired during the so-called "Battle of Blair Mountain" before hostilities come to an end once President Warren Harding authorizes the Army to intervene.
AUG251941Richard "Dick" Winters - the famous commander of the 101st Airborne Division's "Easy" Company - enlists in the Army, entering basic training at Camp Croft in South Carolina. Winters will soon be selected for Officer Candidate School and go on to join COL Robert Sink's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in 1942. Winters and his men jump into Sainte-Mère-Église on D-Day and that day will lead a daring attack on German 88mm guns firing on Utah Beach. For his actions in the Brécourt Manor Assault, GEN Omar Bradley awards Winters with the Distinguished Service Cross - the Army's second-highest award for valor.
AUG251942The Japanese supply fleet carrying reinforcements and supplies for the garrison on Guadalcanal is turned back after taking heavy damage from American air- and land-based aircraft. Several warships are lost, along with hundreds of sailors, soldiers, and many irreplaceable pilots.
AUG251944The 2d Armored Division and 4th Infantry Division enter Paris, capturing the French capital from German troops. Garrison commander GEN Dietrich von Choltitz surrenders his remaining forces that afternoon, ending four years of Nazi occupation.
AUG251945While leading an intelligence operation for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CPT John M. Birch (USAAF) is killed by Chinese communist soldiers. Birch's death is considered the first American casualty of the Cold War. During World War II, Birch assisted BG Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders as they traveled across China, and Doolittle recommended that COL Claire Chennault should commission the American missionary as an officer for the "Flying Tigers." Hoping to become a chaplain, Birch instead ended up as an intelligence officer.
AUG251950As railroad workers prepare to strike during the Korean War, President Harry Truman issues an executive order stating that rail transport is "essential to the national defense and security of the Nation" and places the U.S. Army in charge of the critical infrastructure.
AUG251967Robert McNamara states that Operation ROLLING THUNDER has had little effect on North Vietnam's war-making capabilities. Although the military has dropped more bombs so far in the Vietnam War than it had during all of World War II, President Lyndon Johnson's policy of dictating targets from Washington hamstrings his commanders, who would otherwise have been able to carry out the campaign by choosing targets that would permit them to accomplish their political objectives.
AUG261950The 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) replaces the 34th Infantry Regiment which was utterly decimated by a series of delaying actions against the North Korean Army. Since only 184 soldiers remained out of the regiment's original strength of 1,898, surviving 34th Infantry soldiers are used to fill holes in other units and the regiment is reconstituted in Japan.
AUG261950When a force of enemy soldiers attempts to overrun MSG Melvin O. Handrich's company, he leaves the relative safety of his position behind and moves forward, where he will spend the next eight hours directing mortar and artillery fire on the enemy. When the hostile force makes another attempt to overrun the American position, Handrich observes friendly soldiers attempting to withdraw. He crosses the fire-swept ground to rally them and returns to his forward post. Refusing medical care or even to seek cover, the North Koreans eventually cut down Handrich. But when U.S. soldiers retake the ground, they count 70 dead enemy surrounding Handrich's body.
AUG261957Following the launch of the Soviet Union's R-7 Semyorka missile, state-run news agency TASS announces that the USSR has successfully tested a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that could target "any place in the world."
AUG261993The 75th Ranger Regiment's 3rd Battalion and operators from Special Forces Operational Detatchment-Delta deploy to Somalia to capture the warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid.
AUG271776Five days after 15,000 British soldiers land on Long Island, GEN William Howe's forces attack the Patriots garrisoned at Brooklyn Heights. GEN George Washington's troops are flanked by the Redcoats during the first major battle of the Revolutionary War and suffer some 2,000 casualties before retreating to their redoubt at Brooklyn.
AUG271776GEN Howe ordered his troops to prepare for a siege. However, in two days, the entire 10,000-man army slips through the Royal Navy stationed along the East River and evacuates (with their arms and supplies) to Manhattan. Washington is the last man to leave.
AUG271918U.S. and Mexican Army soldiers, along with militia and armed civilians, clash along the border between Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico. A handful of U.S. soldiers are killed and over 100 Mexicans, but the battle is over when the Americans seize the high ground overlooking the two Nogales on the Mexican side. Following the battle, a chain-link fence is installed, splitting the two towns and becoming the first permanent border fence between the United States and Mexico.
AUG271945B-29 bombers begin airdropping supplies to U.S. prisoners of war held in China.
AUG271972While U.S. aircraft execute the heaviest day of bombing in four years, leveling scores of barracks and targeting North Vietnamese rail lines to China, a four-ship formation enters Haiphong harbor at night and shells military targets. While the heavy cruiser USS Newport News, the guided-missile cruiser USS Providence, and the destroyers USS Robison and USS Rowan head back to sea, they spot four Soviet-built patrol boats in pursuit. Naval gunfire and tactical air support sink three of the four vessels in what becomes one of the very few surface engagements of the Vietnam War.
AUG28186270,000 soldiers of Union MG John Pope's Army of Virginia engage Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee's 50,000-man Army of Northern Virginia, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. MG James Longstreet's five divisions (25,000 men) execute the largest mass assault of the war, smashing their opponents' left flank and forcing and the Union to withdraw.
AUG281944Army Air Force pilots MAJ Joseph Myers and 2LT Manford Croy, Jr., flying P-47 Thunderbolts, become the first fighter pilots to score a victory over a jet aircraft when they shoot down German pilot Hieronymus Lauer's Me 262.
AUG281944U.S. First Army crosses the Marne River in France while the coastal towns of Marseilles and Toulon surrendered to the Allies.
AUG281945An advance party of 150 soldiers - the first American troops to set foot in Japan - land at the naval airfield at Atsugi to prepare for the 11th Airborne Division's arrival.
AUG281952Off the Korean coast, USS Boxer launches the first "guided missile" ever fired from an aircraft carrier - a radio-controlled F6F-5K Hellcat fighter fitted with 1,000-lb. bombs. A pilot controlled the drone, which was fitted with a TV camera, from a two-seat AD-2Q Skyraider. Of the six drones launched by Boxer, only one will reach its target.
AUG281969When LCPL José F. Jiménez's unit comes under heavy attack by North Vietnamese soldiers concealed in well camouflaged emplacements south of Da Nang, the Marine charges forward, neutralizing several enemy soldiers and taking an anti-aircraft gun out of action. Jiménez continues his attack, maneuvering to an enemy trench and wipes that position out as well in the face of "vicious" enemy fire. Moving on to the next target, however, Jiménez is mortally wounded and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
AUG281972Air Force CPT Richard S. Ritchie, flying a two-seat F-4D Phantom, shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter near Hanoi, becoming one of only two American pilot aces during the Vietnam War.
AUG291861Surrender of Cape Hatteras.
AUG291940At Lawson Army Airfield, 1LT William T. Ryder and his Parachute Test Platoon conduct the first mass parachute jump in U.S. military history.
AUG291940A delegation of British scientists begin sharing radar and other military technologies with the United States.
AUG29194415,000 American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division parade down the newly liberated capital's Champs-Élysées.
AUG291944A 21-man OSS force led by LCDR Frank Wisner parachutes into Romania, coordinating the rescue operation of well over 1,000 American prisoners of war.
AUG291945An American B-29 "Superfortress", carrying a load of humanitarian aid to Allied prisoners of war in Korea, is intercepted by Soviet Yak-9 fighters. The supposed allies attack the bomber, forcing 1LT Joseph Queen's crew to bail out before the plane crashes.
AUG291945Allied occupation forces begin arriving in Japan, including the battleship, USS Missouri.
AUG291983During the Lebanese Civil War, mortar crews target American positions, killing two Marines and wounding 14 - the first fatalities for the American peacekeeping force in Beirut.
AUG301776GEN George Washington's Continental Army conducts a strategic withdrawal of Long Island, sneaking 10,000 men and their equipment through British ADM Richard Howe's picket force under cover of darkness.
AUG301862Near Lexington, KY, MG Edmund Kirby Smith accomplishes the "nearest thing to a Cannae" during the Civil War. The Confederates rout MG William "Bull" Nelson's inexperienced Union troops - capturing over 4,000 - in the Battle of Richmond.
AUG301918Southeast of Verdun, France, GEN John J. Pershing's First Army moves into position at the Saint-Mihiel salient. Among Pershing's three U.S. (and one French) corps is LTC George S. Patton, Jr.'s newly formed 1st Provisional Tank Brigade.
AUG301943When Marine 1LT Kenneth A. Walsh's F4U Corsair develops engine trouble in the middle of a vital escort mission in the Solomon Islands, Walsh lands his aircraft at Munda and switches out with another ride, and quickly returns to the air to rendezvous with his package. While enroute, he spots a flight of 50 enemy Zero fighters and despite the incredible 50:1 odds, the Devil Dog attacks. Walsh's guns send four Japanese fighters down in flames before they knock the lone American out of the sky. Walsh makes a deadstick landing near Vella Lavella and is later recovered. For his actions, Walsh was awarded the Medal of Honor. He finishes the war with 21 victories.
AUG301958When China threatens to invade Taiwan, President Dwight Eisenhower deploys the Navy's Seventh Fleet to the strait in addition to sending the Air Force's Composite Air Strike Force to the island. Secretly, the United States arms the Nationalist Chinese Air Force's American-made F-86 Sabres with new AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
AUG301963A 10,000-mile secure cable "hot line" is installed between the Pentagon and Kremlin, providing the two nuclear-armed superpowers with instant communication in hopes of preventing another conflict.
AUG301983USAF COL Guion Bluford becomes the first black astronaut in space when the Space Shuttle Challenger blasts off on its third mission. Accompanying COL Bluford are VADM (R) Richard Truly (USN), CPT Daniel Brandenstien (USN), CPT Dale Gardner (USN), and William Thornton (USAF).
AUG301995NATO begins its first bombing campaign, Operation DELIBERATE FORCE. American land- and carrier-based warplanes, along with aircraft from 14 other nations, drop over 1,000 precision-guided munitions on Bosnian Serb positions, and the operation marks the first combat action for the German Luftwaffe since the end of World War II 50 years earlier.
AUG311864Two armies under the command of MG William T. Sherman engage Confederate GEN John Bell Hood's vastly outnumbered Army of Tennessee just south of Atlanta.
AUG311916Near Guillemont, France, a German artillery shell scores a direct hit on 2LT Henry A. "Harry" Butters, instantly killing the popular Royal Field Artillery officer.
AUG311940As war rages across Europe and Asia, President Franklin Roosevelt federalizes 60,000 National Guard soldiers.
AUG311942After a squadron of eight Japanese destroyers finally manages to squeeze through Guadalcanal's defensive ring and disembarks 1,000 Japanese troops the night before, the arriving force stages an attack on Henderson Field. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps' elite 1st Marine Raider Battalion and 1st Parachute Battalion arrived from Tulagi.
AUG311943The Navy commissions the destroyer escort USS Harmon - the first warship to be named after an African American. While serving aboard the USS San Francisco (CA-36) during the Battle of the Solomon Islands, Mess Attendant First Class Leonard R. Harmon "deliberately exposed himself to hostile gunfire" to protect a medic providing care to wounded sailors, in addition to displaying unusual loyalty on behalf of the ship's injured executive officer. For his actions, Harmon was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
AUG151950Near midnight, as enemy mortar rounds hammer the American lines along the Naktung River, a force of 500 communist soldiers crosses the river under cover of fog and launches a fierce attack. When the infantry begins to withdraw, their supporting armored vehicles take up defensive positions to cover the soldiers. Two American tanks are overrun, one is destroyed, and another retreats, leaving just one M-26 Pershing tank to hold off the enemy. SFC Ernest R. Kouma, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and now a tank commander, and his crew are surrounded. For the next nine hours, they held off repeated fanatical attacks. When the North Koreans get too close, Kouma hops out of the protection of his tank and mans the .50-caliber gun, showering the communists with deadly point-blank fire. Once the gun was empty, he switched to his pistol and used grenades to keep the enemy from overrunning his tank. As the exhausted soldiers withdraw to friendly lines, they first must cross eight miles of hostile territory and take out three machinegun positions along the way. Kouma is sent home and awarded the Medal of Honor.